We investigated if long-term resistance training would increase insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) bioavailabilty at rest in older women (68+/-1 years) with low bone mineral density. IGF-1 levels were significantly lower (P<0.05), and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins -1 and -3 (IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-3) significantly higher than an age-matched healthy normal group. Resistance training resulted in significant (P<0.05) increases in repetition maximums across all exercises (range 41-78%). Resting IGF-1 levels were significantly (P<0.05) elevated (70%) by the resistance training whereas no significant changes occurred in IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-3 levels. IGFBP-1/IGF-1 and IGFBP-3/IGF-1 ratios were significantly decreased (approximately - 50%) as a result of resistance training (P<0.05). Thus, IGF-1 bioavailability was increased as a result of resistance training induced increases in IGF-1 levels in older women with low bone mineral density. These alterations in the IGF-1 system may be contributing to the significant strength gain observed with the resistance training in this population.