Laboratory research has implicated several variables which contribute to the regulation of reproductive behaviour of captive gorillas. Females were found to be increasingly attractive to males during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle when estrogen and testosterone concentrations in the female were increasing. Females solicited mating from the males primarily at midcycle, about the time when the concentration of testosterone was maximal. No mating occurred during the mid‐ to late luteal phase after progesterone concentrations were elevated. Both males and females initiated mating during the midcycle, periovulatory period, but male initiative accounted for most mating that was temporally dissociated from that period. Individual differences between males and among females contributed to the variability in results. Confinement of a male and female in relatively small quarters appears to interact with certain aspects of species‐typical behaviour to distort patterns of mating in laboratory tests. Data on behaviour of gorillas in the wild contributed to interpretation of the laboratory results and suggest an enlightened approach to the captive maintenance and breeding of gorillas. An important consideration in promoting captive breeding of gorillas seems to be the provision of options to the female for regulating the frequency and distribution of mating in the cycle.