1. Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition which primarily affects women and it must be assumed that hormonal influences are responsible.
2. To further investigate this assumption the effect of cyclic sex hormone fluctuations on the digital vascular reactivity of ten normal young women was studied by the diagnostic techniques of thermal entrainment of finger blood flow and Doppler ultrasound mapping of the digital arteries.
3. In the immediate pre-ovulatory period the results obtained were comparable with those found in patients with established Raynaud's phenomenon, suggesting that oestrogen has an important modulating effect in vivo on reflex peripheral vasomotor responses to thermal stimuli.
4. ‘Primary’ Raynaud's phenomenon may represent an exaggerated response to oestrogen.