Binding of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH, pyro-Glu1-His2-Trp3-Ser4-Tyr5-Gly6-Leu7-Arg8-Pro9-Gly-NH210) to its plasma membrane receptor is the first step leading to the release of pituitary luteinizing hormone. As in the case of other plasma membrane receptors, patching, capping, and internalization of this hormone-receptor complex occurs rapidly following exposure of cultured pituitary cells to physiological levels of releasing hormone. In the present study we sought to determine whether gonadotropin release could occur under conditions which rigorously excluded internalization. A GnRH analog, D-Lys6-GnRH (to which a small quantity of [125I]iodoTyr5-D-Lys6-GnRH was added), was coupled by its epsilon-amino group with an N-hydroxysuccinimide ester then, through a 10-A spacer arm, to a cross-linked agarose matrix. Exposure of the product to proteases, soaps, detergents, solvents, chaotropic agents, or cell cultures resulted in dissociation of < 0.28% of biologically active releasing hormone. The apparent potency of the immobilized analog was one-fourth that of the free form and it was still capable of evoking a full luteinizing hormone secretory response. It can, therefore, be concluded that internalization of GnRH is not required for gonadotropin release.