Estradiol is one of the most important hormones in the regulation of estrous behavior, which is at a very low level of expression in the modern dairy cow. In the present study the neuroanatomical distribution of estrogen receptors of the -subtype (ER-) in the bovine hypothalamic area is determined with immunocytochemical methods, at various stages of the estrous cycle. During the luteal phase of the cycle, ER- immunoreactive cells were found in most of the nuclei that are known to express ER- immunoreactivity in other species, like the Bed nucleus of the Stria terminalis, Medial preoptic area, Ventromedial hypothalamus and Arcuate nucleus. During estrus and metestrus, however, no ER- immunoreactive cells could be detected in those areas, except for a few in the caudal Arcuate nucleus. The results from the present study indicate that there is a coherent regulation and timing of physiological and behavioral events around ovulation, in which estradiol and its receptor play a key role.