The ovarian responses of anoestrus beef cows to a combined treatment with medroxy-progesterone acetate (MAP) sponges and oestradiol benzoate or equine chorionic gonadotrophin (eCG) were evaluated. Forty-fiwe suckling Hereford cows were allocated to three equal groups. Group 1 received a MAP sponge for seven days plus an injection of 2 mg oestradiol benzoate when the sponge was inserted (day 0) and 1 mg when the sponge was withdrawn; group 2 received identical treatment until day 7, when a dose of 400 iu of eCG was administered, and group 3 were left untreated as control animals. From day 0 to day 11 the cows' ovaries were examined daily by transrectal ultrasonography, and their oestrous behaviour was observed from 24 hours to 96 hours after the sponge was removed. Data from cows that had a corpus luteum present before the sponge was withdrawn were not used in subsequent analyses; there were four in group 1, five in group 2 and four in group 3. In 19 of the 21 cows in groups 1 and 2 a new follicular wave was observed to emerge at a mean (sd) interval of 3.9 (0.3) days after the insertion of the sponge, whereas in group 3 it occurred in all 11 cows after 3.4 (0.6) days. Only the six cows that had a follicle of 9 mm or larger in diameter ovulated (P≤0.001). Nine of the 11 cows in group 1 came into oestrus, compared with two of the 10 in group 2 and none of the control cows (P≤0.001). Ovulation was observed in four, two and none of the cows in groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively.