The aims of this study were to assess the accuracy of different common methods of differentiating between follicular and luteal ovarian cysts, and to monitor the response of the cysts to 12 days treatment with a progesterone-releasing intravaginal device (PRID). On the basis of agreement between the different methods, 25 of the 46 cases examined were diagnosed as follicular and 14 as luteal cysts; for the other seven cases the methods disagreed. The use of ultrasound was more accurate in diagnosing follicular cysts than luteal cysts, and combined with plasma progesterone concentrations gave the most accurate assessment of cyst type (92 per cent for follicular cysts and 82 per cent for luteal cysts). The mean (se) plasm; progesterone concentration was lower in the cows with follicular cysts than in those with luteal cysts (0.29 [0.05] v 3.90 [0.63] ng/ml; P<0.05). Luteal cysts had thicker walls (5.3 [0.04] v 2.5 [0.2] mm; P<0.0001), and the wall thickness of all the cysts was positively correlated with plasma progesterone concentration (r=0.52, P<0.0004). Cows with luteal cysts had more additional follicles greater than 5 mm in diameter (P<0.01). In cows with follicular cysts and other follicles greater than 5 mm in diameter, the mean oestradiol concentration was 7.9 (1.8) pg/mI compared with 24.2 (3.1) pg/ml (P=0.002) in cows without other follicles greater than 5 mm in diameter on either ovary. At the time of PRID removal, plasma progesterone concentration had increased in the cows with follicular cysts to 1.59 (0.06) ng/ml (P<0.05) and decreased in the cows with luteal cysts to 0.87 (001) ng/ml (P<0.05), although there was no change in original cyst structure in 45 per cent of the cases. However, new ovarian structures were frequently observed during the treatment. The overall pregnancy rate for cows with both types of cyst after treatment was 50 per cent after three inseminations, but the first service pregnancy rate was only 18 per cent for cows with follicular cysts and 28 per cent for cows with luteal cysts. After treatment, the fertility of cows with follicular cysts was similar to that of paired herdmates, whereas cows with luteal cysts took 40 days longer to calve again than healthy herdmates. However, the culling rate was higher for cows with follicular cysts (41 v 11 per cent).
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