Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is expressed in hypothalamic magnocellular neurons. High co-localization rates of SHBG with oxytocin have been observed in the hypothalamus, indicating that SHBG plays a role in pregnancy, parturition and lactation. Further studies have shown that hypothalamic SHBG expression is malleable to changing steroid conditions. In this study, we have examined SHBG levels in the supraoptic and paraventricular hypothalamic nuclei and in the posterior pituitary lobe of late pregnant, parturient and early lactating rats by in situ hybridization, immunocytochemistry, and ELISA. Immunocytochemical and biochemical analysis showed that the SHBG levels increased during late pregnancy in hypothalamic nuclei. During parturition, SHBG levels fell in the magnocellular nuclei but increased in the posterior pituitary lobe. SHBG levels increase again during lactation. At day six of lactation, there was no significant difference in SHBG levels compared to normal cycling female rats, which served as control in this study. In situ hybridization showed increased SHBG mRNA signal during late pregnancy. The highest SHBG expression was observed during parturition. Our data indicate that hypothalamic SHBG expression changes during pregnancy, parturition and lactation, parallel to ovarian steroid and co-localized OT levels. This may in part be linked to known steroid actions on synthesis and secretion of magnocellular hypothalamic peptide hormones, important for the control of parturition and lactation. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart.