Developmental changes in immunostained gonadotropin releasing hormone neurons were demonstrated in female rabbits assigned to the following treatment groups: (i) tamoxifen citrate, 10 mg∙kg−1∙day−1, in sesame seed oil (vehicle) (n = 24) or (ii) vehicle alone (control, n = 24) for 108 days; and (iii) 50 IU of pregnant mare serum gonadotropin on postnatal days 22 and 25 (n = 24) or vehicle on nontreatment days. Treatments had no effect on the total number of immunostained cells, but there was a significant (p = 0.0160) developmental shift from cells with smooth processes to rough. Group comparisons revealed that there was a significant (p < 0.001) age-related increase in the number of rough cells in pregnant mare serum treated rabbits between days 25 and 75, indicating an advancement in the shift from smooth to rough cells. Plasma gonadotropin levels, ovarian follicular development, and the developmental shift from smooth to rough cells were markedly suppressed by tamoxifen treatment compared with rabbits of the control group, while no difference in estradiol levels were found. Our results suggest that a developmental shift in gonadotropin releasing hormone cell morphology from smooth to rough precedes sexual maturity in the female rabbit.Key words: development, sexual maturation, gonadotropin releasing hormone, puberty, immunohistochemistry.