OBJECTIVES: Enkephalins functions are partly modulated by enkephalinases especially membrane-bound alanyl aminopeptidase (EC-220.127.116.11) considered as the major enkephalin-degrading enzyme in brain. The analysis of its activity in standard and non-standard light/dark conditions may help the understanding of the regulatory mechanisms of enkephalins. METHODS: Enkephalinase activity was determined fluorometrically, using an arylamide derivative as substrate, in hypothalamus and pituitary of adult male rats, in a standard 12:12 h light/dark cycle; samples were collected at 10:00 h, 13:00 h and 16:00 h of the light period (light on from 7:00 to 19:00 h) and at 22:00 h, 01:00 h and 04:00 h of the dark one (light off from 19:00 h to 07:00 h). For comparison, the enzymatic activity was also measured in the same locations at the same time-points but under constant light conditions. RESULTS: In standard light/dark conditions, the results demonstrated an opposite daily rhythm in hypothalamus and pituitary. While the highest levels of AlaAP or enkephalinase activities were measured in hypothalamus during the dark period, they were the highest in the pituitary during the light one. In contrast, the lowest levels of activity were observed in the light period in the hypothalamus whereas they were in the dark one in the pituitary. A similar pattern was observed under constant light. The differences were however higher in hypothalamus and lower, but still significant, in pituitary. CONCLUSION: These results may reflect the behaviour of the endogenous substrates of enkephalinase and consequently be involved in their functions. This observation may affect the chronotherapeutic strategies.