GH accelerates hepatic regeneration in the rat. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a potent hepatocyte mitogen in vitro, is considered to be a major regulator of hepatic regeneration. In the present study, the effects of GH and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) on HGF gene expression in regenerating rat liver was investigated. In hypophysectomized rats treated with GH, hepatic HGF mRNA levels were increased 3 h after partial hepatectomy and reached peak levels after 5 h. In rats with intact pituitaries and in hypophysectomized rats not given GH treatment, HGF mRNA levels in liver were unchanged during the first 5 h following hepatectomy and reached peak levels after 10-18 h. DNA synthesis in the liver of GH-treated rats increased from low levels 10 h after hepatectomy to peak levels after 18 h. In rats without GH treatment the synthesis of DNA was still low 18 h after hepatectomy and was increased after 26 h. Treatment of hypophysectomized rats with IGF-I promoted increases in hepatic HGF mRNA levels and DNA synthesis 3·5 h and 15 h after hepatectomy respectively. HGF mRNA levels were constantly lower after sham-hepatectomy than after partial hepatectomy. In summary, in hypophysectomized rats the responses of hepatic HGF gene expression and DNA synthesis to partial hepatectomy were both accelerated by treatment with GH or IGF-I.