An endogenous ligand for the GH secretagogue-receptor (GHS-R) has been recently purified from rat and human stomach and named Ghrelin. It has been demonstrated that Ghrelin specifically stimulates GH secretion from rat pituitary cells in culture as well as in rats in vivo. In this preliminary study, in 4 normal adults [age (mean+/-SE): 28.6+/-3.5 yr; body mass index (BMI): 22.3+/-2.1 kg/m2] we administered 1.0 microg/kg Ghrelin or GHRH-29 to compare their GH-releasing activities in humans. In all subjects Ghrelin induced a prompt, marked and long-lasting increase in circulating GH levels (peak: 107.9+/-26.1 microg/l; AUC: 6503.1+/-1632.7 microg/l/h). The GH response to Ghrelin was clearly higher (p<0.05) than that after GHRH (peak: 22.3+/-4.5 microg/l; AUC: 1517.5+/-338.4 microg/l/h). In conclusion, this preliminary study shows that Ghrelin exerts a strong stimulatory effect on GH secretion in humans releasing more GH than GHRH.