Urinary incontinence due to acquired urethral sphincter incompetence is a common side effect of spaying, for which the underlying cause remains unknown. Spaying not only results in a significant reduction in the urethral closure pressure within 1 year but also in an increase in the plasma gonadotropin concentrations. To investigate the possible link between the post-ovariectomy changes in plasma gonadotropins and in urethral closure pressure, gonadotropin and urodynamic measurements were performed in 10 Beagle bitches before and for a period of 1 year after spaying. Plasma gonadotropin concentrations rose quickly after ovariectomy and peak levels were seen within 3-5 weeks, followed by a sharp drop until week 10. A steady increase was observed subsequently until week 42, when a plateau was reached. One year after spaying, the mean FSH concentration was 75.3 +/- 32.1 ng/ml, a 17-fold increase, and the LH was 8.3 +/- 3.8 ng/ml, an eightfold increase over the pre-spaying values. Ten months after spaying, the mean urethral closure pressure (9.7 cm H2O) was significantly reduced when compared to the mean pre-operative value of 15.4 cm H2O. However, there was no clear relationship between the gonadotropin concentrations and the urethral closure pressure. From these results it seems unlikely that chronically elevated gonadotropins are the underlying cause for reduced urethral closure pressure after spaying resulting in urinary incontinence.