The authors tested the hypothesis that unilateral adrenalectomy results in decreased glucocorticoid secretion, reflexly elevated ACTH secretion, and, consequently, compensatory adrenal growth. Plasma ACTH and corticosterone and right adrenal weight were measured during the first 10 days after left adrenalectomy or sham adrenalectomy in young male rats. There is a decrease in plasma corticosterone after unilateral adrenalectomy compared to sham adrenalectomy that persists for 1 h. ACTH is elevated only at 2 h after unilateral adrenalectomy compared to sham operated rats. Treatment with dexamethasone, shown to abolish the ACTH and corticosterone responses to laparotomy with intestinal traction, resulted in significantly increased adrenal weight after unilateral adrenalectomy by 6 h (wet or dry weight), and at 24 h. Compensatory adrenal growth also occurs after unilateral adrenalectomy in hypophysectomized rats (wet or dry weight). We conclude that compensatory adrenal growth after unilateral adrenalectomy requires neither a virtual decrease in circulating corticosterone levels nor elevated ACTH levels, and speculate that the phenomenon is neurally mediated.