Ovarian activity and estrous behaviour were monitored through milk progesterone determinations and twice daily visual observations in 70 crossbred Brown Swiss × Nellore cows following natural service. Whole milk samples were collected on the day of estrus (Day 1), Day 11, and every 5 d thereafter until the next estrus or pregnancy confirmation. Seventy percent of the cows behaved as expected, i.e. they showed a 19-to 25-d interval between estrus and the next ovulation, or they became pregnant. Estrous cycles of regular length (18 to 24 d) were found in 54% of the cases. Prolonged luteal phases (interval from estrus to next ovulation > 28 d) were found in 15.7% of cows. Short estrous cycles (interestrous interval < 18 d) were found in 7.1% of the cases. Periods of acyclicity (basal progesterone levels for periods ≥ 15 d) were found in 5.8% of the cases, and one cow exhibited estrus while pregnant and had a high progesterone concentration. Cows with a prolonged luteal phase and those with a short estrous cycle had an interval between ovulations of 35.0 ± 6.7 d (x ± SD) and 9.6 ± 3.1 d, respectively. Signs of estrus were not detected in 33.3% of the ovulations confirmed by progesterone determinations. Low conception rates, failures in estrus detection and a high frequency of abnormal postbreeding luteal phases were found. © 1990.