We previously reported the existence of a descending multisynaptic, pituitary-independent, neural pathway between the hypothalamus and the testes in the male rat. Stimulation of this pathway by the intracerebroventricular (icv) injection of IL-1beta or corticotropin-releasing factor blunts the testosterone (T) response to human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This response is mediated at least in part by catecholamine beta-adrenergic receptor activation. The present work was performed to further investigate the role of brain catecholamines and testicular blood flow in this pathway. The icv injection of 5 microl of 200 proof ethanol (EtOH; 86 micromol) did not result in detectable levels of the drug in the general circulation and did not induce neuronal damage, but rapidly blunted hCG-induced T release while not decreasing LH levels or altering testicular blood flow. EtOH significantly up-regulated transcripts of the immediate-early gene c-fos in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. Lesions of the PVN blocked the inhibitory effect of IL-1beta on T, but only partially interfered with the influence of EtOH. PVN catecholamine turnover significantly increased after icv injection of IL-1beta, but not EtOH. Brain catecholamine depletion due to the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine did not alter the ability of hCG to induce T release, but significantly reversed the inhibitory effect of icv EtOH or IL-1beta on this response. Collectively, these results indicate that icv-injected IL-1beta or EtOH blunts hCG-induced T secretion through a catecholamine-mediated mechanism that does not depend on either peripherally mediated effects or pituitary LH, and that the PVN plays a role in these effects.