This work describes the stimulation by a peptide hormone of an individual cell in a prescribed region of its plasma membrane. When Leydig cells were stimulated via a section of membrane tightly sealed to an electrode containing LH, a very localized area exhibited the morphological change known as 'rounding up', which is a cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase-mediated response. This localized stimulation did not produce a wider response through intracellular, intermembranous or extra-cellular signals. Each individual cell responded to peptide stimulation gradually, with an increase over time and with dose. In contrast, when the stimulation was accomplished using a non-hydrolysable cyclic AMP analogue in the patch electrode, a general response throughout an individual cell was produced. Locally stimulated peptide hormone receptors, adenylate cyclases and cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinases appear to be closely associated so that second messenger production and the effects it mediates are compartmentalized.