Thyroid hormones affect bone remodelling directly via receptors in osteoblasts. Previously, however, we have shown that the euthyroid and hyperthyroid states significantly influence the concentrations of both nerve growth factor (NGF) and norepinephrine (NE) in particular bones. Both NGF and NE directly affect bone metabolism and therefore it is possible that thyroid hormone action on bone may also be indirect via its actions on these two neural-related substances. In light of previous studies, the current experiments aimed to investigate whether hypothyroidism also influenced NGF and NE concentrations in weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing rat bones. Hypothyroidism was induced by oral ingestion of propylthiouricil (PTU; 3.8+/-0.2 mg/kg/day) for 21 days. Histological examination on distal femurs and microparticle enzyme immunoassayed plasma concentrations of T3 and T4 verified the hypothyroid status in treated rats. NGF concentrations were assayed via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and NE concentrations were measured via high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with electrochemical detection (ECD). NGF concentrations: Femoral NGF concentrations were 207% higher in hypothyroid rats (674.9+/-88.3 ng/g) than in euthyroid rats (326.7+/-63.6 ng/g; p < 0.05). Rib NGF concentrations in hypothyroid rats (3125.1+/-450.2 ng/g) were increased by 342% compared to euthyroid ribs (914.5+/-128.6 ng/g; p < 0.01). Rib NGF concentrations in hypothyroid rats were 463% higher than in femurs of hypothyroid rats (p < 0.001). NE concentrations: In hypothyroid rats, NE concentrations were reduced by approximately 50% in both ribs (38.9 ng/g) and calvaria (41.5 ng/g) compared to euthyroid rats (74.7 ng/g and 87.4 ng/g respectively; p < 0.05 for both). These findings on hypothyroid rats may be taken in conjunction with our companion work on hyperthyroid rats (Yao et al., 2002, JMNI 2:327-334) and put in context with other reports, to indicate that (i) there are several sources of NGF in bone, some of which are stimulated by hypothyroidism and others by hyperthyroidism and (ii) the concentrations of both NGF and NE in bone are sensitive to weight-bearing and thyroid hormone status.