The present study was conducted to determine the developmental expression of placental insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-II, IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-1 and -2, and IGF-II receptor mRNA expression during baboon pregnancy and whether estrogen, the levels of which increase with advancing pregnancy, regulates placental trophoblast IGF-II mRNA expression. Levels of the IGF-II 6.1-kilobase (kb) and 4.9-kb mRNA transcripts determined by Northern blot analysis progressively increased three- to fourfold in placental syncytiotrophoblast and whole-villous tissue between early (Day 60), mid (Day 100), and late (Day 170) baboon gestation (term = 184 days). In contrast, syncytiotrophoblast IGFBP-1 and -2 mRNA levels decreased, and IGF-II receptor mRNA expression remained relatively constant, with advancing baboon pregnancy. Placental cytotrophoblast IGF-II mRNA levels determined by competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction on Day 54 of gestation were increased (P < 0.05) almost twofold at 18 h after acute administration of estradiol to baboons, whereas long-term estrogen treatment had no effect. We propose that these changes in trophoblast IGF expression would provide a mechanism for enhancing net bioavailability and bioreactivity of IGF-II locally to promote the growth and development of the placenta and, consequently, of the fetus during primate pregnancy.