[en] Steroids are generally viewed as transcription factors binding to intracellular receptors and activating gene transcription. Rapid cellular effects mediated via non-genomic mechanisms have however been identified and one report showed that injections of estradiol rapidly stimulate chemoinvestigation and mounting behavior in castrated male rats. It is not known whether such effects take place in other species and what are the cellular underlying mechanisms. We show here that a single injection of estradiol (500 wg/kg) rapidly and transiently activates copulatory behavior in castrated male quail pre-treated with a dose of testosterone behaviorally ineffective by itself. The maximal behavioral effect was observed after 15 min. In a second experiment, the brain of all subjects was immediately collected after behavioral tests performed 15 min after injection. The preoptic area-hypothalamus (HPOA), hindbrain, telencephalon and cerebellum were isolated and monoamines measured by HPLC-ED. Estradiol increased levels of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) and 5-HIAA/serotonin ratios in the telencephalon and hindbrain independently of whether animals had mated or not. Estradiol also affected these measures in HPOA and cerebellum but this effect was correlated with the level of sexual activity so that significant effects of the treatment only appeared when sexual activity was used as a covariate. Interactions between estradiol effects and sexual activity were also observed for dopamine in the HPOA and for serotonin in the hindbrain and cerebellum. Together, these data demonstrate that a single estradiol injection rapidly activates male sexual behavior in quail and that this behavioral effect is correlated with changes in monoaminergic activity. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.