Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) stimulates the pituitary secretion of both luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and thus controls the hormonal and reproductive functions of the gonads. The blockade of the effects of GnRH may be sought for a variety of reasons; for example, to control premature LH surges and to reduce the cancellation rate with the aim of improving the pregnancy rate per treatment cycle or in the treatment of sex hormone-dependent disorders. Selective blockade of LH/FSH secretion and subsequent chemical castration have previously been achieved by desensitising the pituitary to continuously administered GnRH or by giving long-acting GnRH agonists. GnRH analogues are indicated for clinical situations in which the suppression of endogenous gonadotropins (precocious puberty, contraception and controlled ovarian hyperstimulation) or sexual steroids (endometriosis, prostate hyperplasia, cancer and uterine fibroids) is desired. The immediate suppression of the pituitary that is achieved by GnRH antagonists without an initial stimulatory effect is the main advantage of these compounds over the agonists. GnRH antagonists have been developed for clinical use with acceptable pharmacokinetic, safety and commercial profiles. In assisted reproduction, these compounds seem to be as effective as established therapy, but with shorter treatment times, less use of gonadotropic hormones, improved patient acceptance, and fewer follicles and oocytes. All of the current indications for GnRH agonist desensitisation may prove to be indications for a GnRH antagonist, including endometriosis, leiomyoma and breast cancer in women, benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostatic carcinoma in men, and central precocious puberty in children. However, the best clinical evidence has been in assisted reproduction and prostate cancer.