The inappropriate expressions of insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and II) and IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) are implicated in the malignant growth of many cancers. To determine changes, if any, in the levels of expression of IGFs and IGF receptor genes in neoplastic endometrium, relative to normal endometrium, the mRNA levels of IGF-I and II and of IGF-IR and IIR were measured in samples of endometrial carcinomas (EC) and normal endometrium, through all phases of the menstrual cycle, by semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. In normal endometrium, the mRNA levels of IGF-I were elevated in the proliferative and early secretory phases. The IGF-II mRNAs were relatively high in the proliferative phase, but unaltered through early and late secretory phases. Significantly elevated levels of IGF-II transcripts were observed during the menstrual phase, suggesting a possible role of IGF-II in endometrial regeneration. A positive correlation between the levels of IGF-I and IGF-IR mRNAs, apparent in the samples of normal endometrium, was not observed in endometrial carcinomas. The IGF-IR and IIR mRNA levels were elevated in endometrial carcinoma samples. On the other hand, the IGF-I and II mRNA levels were conspicuously low in many carcinoma samples, which were not associated with hyperplasia (type II EC), but relatively elevated in two other carcinoma samples, associated with adenomatous hyperplasia (type I EC). These results albeit with few samples suggest the possibility that the overexpressed receptor, IGF-IR, could be activated differently in two types of endometrial carcinomas, namely ligand-dependently in type I ECs and ligand-independently in type II ECs.