This paper first reviews the basic elements of the reproduction system in female mammals and indicates the adaptive significance of the cyclicity of structure and function always observed in this system. A detailed description of the reproductive cycle in the laboratory rat is then presented, and a theoretical model of the control of the rat estrous cycle is described. The purpose of the model is to “explain” the mechanism of cyclic function of reproduction in the rat. Some examples of the heuristic value of the model are then outlined, including the beginning of computer simulation.

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