To investigate whether sleep homeostasis in the female rat is modulated by the estrous cycle, the vigilance states, EEG power spectra and cortical temperature (TCRT) were assessed on the basis of 4-day continuous recordings. A regulatory response was elicited by 6-h sleep deprivation (SD) during the proestrous (PRO) and the estrous (EST) day and compared to the baseline recordings. The vigilance states varied across the estrous cycle. In the PRO dark period the amount of sleep was reduced. The decrease in rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep was already evident towards the end of the preceding light period, and an increased fragmentation of sleep was present throughout PRO. Compared to the other days of the estrous cycle, slow-wave activity (SWA; EEG power density 0.75-4.75 Hz) in nonREM (NREM) sleep was lower in PRO at the end of the light period and in the beginning of the dark period. High-frequency activity (HFA; EEG power density 10.25-25.0 Hz) was increased in the dark period of PRO. The SD performed during the first 6 h of the light period of PRO and EST enhanced SWA in NREM sleep and reduced sleep fragmentation during the subsequent 6 h. The extent and time course of the response to SD did not differ between the two phases of the estrous cycle. It is concluded that despite the marked baseline variations of the vigilance states and the EEG, homeostatic regulation is little affected by the estrous cycle.