Ghrelin is a recently identified endogenous ligand for the GH secretagogue receptor and is involved in a novel system for regulating GH release. However, little is known about its GH-releasing activity and other endocrine effects in humans. To address this issue, we studied the GH, ACTH, cortisol, PRL, LH, FSH, and TSH responses to synthetic human ghrelin. In four normal male adults (28-37 yr), iv ghrelin administration released GH in a dose-dependent manner and 0.2, 1.0, and 5.0 microg/kg ghrelin produced 43.3 +/- 6.0, 81.5 +/- 12.7, and 107.0 +/- 10.7 ng/mL of the GH peak values at 30 min, respectively. ACTH, cortisol, and PRL levels were also elevated after ghrelin injection, while the lowest dose (0.2 microg/kg) resulted in only minimum peak values of these hormones (22.8 +/- 3.0 pg/mL, 9.4 +/- 1.9 microg/dL, and 4.6 +/- 0.6 ng/mL, respectively). There were no significant changes in LH, FSH, or TSH levels. This is the first study showing evidence that ghrelin strongly stimulates GH release in humans.