The present study investigated whether recombinant human (rh) growth hormone (GH) combined with endurance training would have a larger effect on oxidative capacity, metabolism, and body fat than endurance training alone. Sixteen healthy, elderly women, aged 75 yr, performed closely monitored endurance training on a cycle ergometer over 12 wk. rhGH was given in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled design in addition to the training program. GH administration resulted in a doubling of serum insulin-like growth factor I levels. With endurance training, peak oxygen uptake increased by approximately 18% in both groups, whereas the marked increase in muscle citrate synthase activity was 50% larger in the GH group compared with the placebo group. In addition, only the GH group revealed an increase in muscle L-3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity. Body weight remained unchanged in both groups, but the GH group showed significant changes in body composition with a decrease in fat mass and an increase in lean body mass. Twenty-four-hour indirect calorimetry performed in four subjects showed a marked increase in energy expenditure with increased relative and absolute fat combustion in the two subjects receiving rhGH. In conclusion, rhGH adds to the effects of endurance training on muscle oxidative enzymes and causes a reduction in body fat in elderly women.