The present study was conducted to determine if the social status of Australian Cashmere goats affects their response to the male effect in terms of LH secretion, ovulation and expression of estrus. Australian Cashmere goats were kept isolated from the males during 5 months. The index of success (SI) of each goat was calculated to establish their social rank. In the first experiment, the ten most dominant and the 10 most subordinate goats were separated from the original herd and housed in two pens (5 dominant and 5 subordinate animals in each pen). An androgenized wether was then introduced into each pen. Luteinizing hormone (LH) was measured every 20 min from 2 h before to 4 h after introduction of the male in the goats of first pen and from 4 to 8 h after male introduction in the second pen. In the second experiment, the remaining 50 goats were exposed in their original pen to two androgenized wethers. Their association index with the males (AI) was calculated for each of these 50 goats, and the intervals from exposure to the males to the onset of estrus and to ovulation were determined. During the first 4 h after male introduction, the dominant goats had more LH pulses (0.65 +/- 0.06 compared with 0.3 +/- 0.09; P < 0.0.5) and greater LH mean concentrations (1.79 +/- 0.14 ng/ml compared with 1.30 +/- 0.15 ng/ml, P = 0.05) than the subordinate animals. Although not significantly different, the AI was 35% greater for high and medium ranking goats than for low ranking animals (0.031 +/- 0.004, 0.032 +/- 0.005 and 0.023 0.005, respectively, P > 0.05). Although the number of goats ovulating in response to male exposure was similar between dominance groups (high: 100%, medium: 94% and low ranking: 92%), the high and medium dominance goats showed a greater incidence of expression of estrus than low-dominance goats (94.4%, 89.5% and 53.8%, respectively, P < 0.05). It is concluded that the social rank of the Australian Cashmere goat influences their response to the male effect in terms of early LH secretion and expression of estrus. (C) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.