Onset of sexual maturation was determined in weanling male collared lemmings exposed to one of three experimental regimens of different photoperiods before and after weaning. Animals gestated in photoperiods of either 16 h light:8 h dark or 8 h light:16 h dark. Those from 16 h light:8 h dark were transferred at 19 days of age to either 20 h light:4 h dark or 8 h light:16 h dark; those gestated under 8 h light: 16 h dark remained in that photoperiod throughout the experiment. After exposure for 15, 20, 25 or 30 days to the postweaning photoperiod, animals were killed and the following parameters assessed: body weight, testes weight, seminal vesicle weight, the presence or absence of epididymal spermatozoa and serum concentrations of prolactin, testosterone and corticosterone. All parameters except serum testosterone were significantly influenced by photoperiod. Animals housed under 8 h light:16 h dark had significantly greater body weights than those housed under 20 h light:4 h dark, a response that differs from that reported for other arvicoline rodents. The group gestated on 16 h light:8 h dark and transferred on day 19 to 8 h light:16 h dark had lower testes and seminal vesicle weights than the other two groups, and mature spermatozoa in the epididymides appeared 5 days later than in the 20 h light:4 h dark group. Serum prolactin was largely undetectable in animals from both 8 h light:16 h dark groups, but all males housed in 20 h light:4 h dark had 2.0-15.0 ng prolactin ml-1. Concentration of serum corticosterone was higher in animals weaned into long photoperiod, and decreased with age. These data indicate that weanling male D. groenlandicus are reproductively photoresponsive, but use a decrease in photoperiod, not static short-photoperiod exposure, to alter the rate of development. Prolactin was largely undetectable in animals exposed to short photoperiod, indicating that high concentrations of this hormone are not important for maturation. Low prolactin concentrations in animals in short photoperiods may mediate the annual moult to white pelage. The short-photoperiod-mediated decrease in corticosterone may play a role in seasonal changes in body weight and composition.