In the circulation, most of the insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) are bound to a ternary 150 kDa complex with IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-3 and the acid labile subunit. In the current study, we identify transferrin (Tf) by mass spectrometry, and immunoprecipitation as a component of a major IGF-binding fraction separated from human plasma. IGF ligand blotting, cross-linkage experiments and surface plasmon resonance spectrometry have been used to demonstrate the capability of Tf to bind IGFs specifically. In combination with Tf, IGFBP-3 showed a 5-fold higher affinity for IGF-II than IGFBP-3 alone. The data suggest that Tf may play an important role in regulating IGF/IGFBP-3 functions.