Prolonged exercise increases circulating insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) in humans and animals, but its physiological significance is unknown. This study examined 1) time-course changes in plasma IGFBP-1 and hepatic IGFBP-1 mRNA expression after exercise, 2) changes in IGFBP-1 in relation to plasma glucose, insulin, and IGF-I, and 3) the impact of feeding a postexercise meal on the IGFBP-1 response. Food-deprived male rats were vigorously run on a treadmill and compared with nonexercised controls at 15 min and 1, 4, 8, and 12 h after exercise. Circulating insulin concentrations in exercised rats were lower than in controls at 15 min and 1 h, whereas plasma glucose and IGF-I remained unaffected. Circulating and hepatic expression of IGFBP-1 was markedly increased above that of controls at 15 min, 1 h, and 12 h. In a separate experiment, one-half of the exercised animals received a nutritionally complete meal immediately after the experimental run. The meal elevated plasma insulin and glucose concentrations at 15 min and 1 h. Despite this change in nutritional status, serum IGFBP-1 concentrations and hepatic IGFBP-1 abundance remained elevated at 15 min and 1 h. These results demonstrate that the IGFBP-1 response to a single bout of treadmill exercise is short in duration and independent of insulin, glucose, and amino acid availability.