On an every other day basis, chronically catheterized male rats were subjected to a 30 sec grid shock in either an ascending (0.0, 0.25, 1.0, 4.0 mA) or descending order. A third group was repeatedly subjected to 1.0 mA shock over the same time frame. In 85% of the shock trials, plasma prolactin increased from baseline levels, thus indicating that prolactin is a relatively reliable index of stress. However prolactin did not change in a step-wise fashion with stressor intensity for a significant number of rats. Data from the group given repeated exposure to the 1 mA stressor showed no evidence of habituation - a process which might have explained the findings. This study indicates that prolactin levels do not sensitively track stressor intensity for individual rats.