Growth hormone (GH) is used or is being evaluated for efficacy in treatment of short stature, aspects of aging, cardiac disorders, Crohn's disease, and short bowel syndrome. Therefore, we synthesized several stable growth hormone-releasing factor (GRF) analogues that could be therapeutically useful. One potent analog, [D-Ala(2),Aib(8, 18,)Ala(9, 15, 16, 22, 24-26,)Gab(27)]hGRF(1-27)NH(2) (GRF-6), with prolonged infusion caused severe diarrhea in monkeys; however, it had no side-effects in rats. Because GRF has similarity to VIP/PACAP and VIPomas cause diarrhea, this study investigated the ability of this and other GRF analogues to interact with the VIP/PACAP receptors. Rat VPAC(1)-R (rVPAC(1)-R), human VPAC(1)-R (hVPAC(1)-R), rVPAC(2)-R and hVPAC(2)-R stably transfected CHO and PANC 1 cells were made and T47D breast cancer cells containing native human VPAC(1)-R and AR4-2J cells containing PAC(1)-R were used. hGRF(1-29)NH(2) had low affinity for both rVPAC(1)-R and rVPAC(2)-R while VIP had a high affinity for both receptors. GRF-6 had a low affinity for both rVPAC(1)-R and rVPAC(2)-R and very low affinity for the rPAC(1)-R. VIP had a high affinity, whereas hGRF(1-29)NH(2) had a low affinity for both hVPAC(1)-R and hVPAC(2)-R. In contrast GRF-6, while having a low affinity for hVPAC(2)-R, had relatively higher affinity for the hVPAC(1)-R. In guinea pig pancreatic acini, all GRF analogues were full agonists at the VPAC(1)-R causing enzyme secretion. These results demonstrate that in contrast to native hGRF(1-29)NH(2,) GRF-6 has a relatively high affinity for the human VPAC(1)-R but not for the human VPAC(2)-R, rat VPAC(1)-R, rat VPAC(2)-R or rat PAC(1)-R. These results suggest that the substituted GRF analog, GRF-6, likely causes the diarrheal side-effects in monkeys by interacting with the VPAC(1)-R. Furthermore, they demonstrate significant species differences can exist for possible therapeutic peptide agonists of the VIP/PACAP/GRF receptor family and that it is essential that receptor affinity assessments be performed in human cells or from a closely related species.