Ghrelin, a recently discovered hormone of gastric origin has been shown to stimulate appetite and food intake. In man it is considered to play a role in energy homeostasis and regulation of somatropic function. As exercise affects hunger/satiety sensations and food intake, at least under some experimental conditions, we investigated the effect of exercise intensity and duration on ghrelin release and subsequent ad libitum food intake in normal weight subjects. Bicycle exercise on an ergometer for 30 min at 50 W which was below the aerob-anaerobic threshold led to an increase of ghrelin which remained unchanged during the higher intensity at 100 W. Respective hunger/satiety ratings and subsequent food intake and postprandial ghrelin suppression were identical and not different from controls. In a second group 7 subjects cycled at 50 W for 30, 60 and 120 min, respectively. Ghrelin concentrations rose significantly by 50-70 pg/ml above baseline for the respective period of exercise. While postexercise premeal ghrelin levels were not significantly different subsequent food intake after 120 min of cycling was significantly greater compared to control, 30 min and 60 min exercise, respectively. The present data suggest that low rather than high-intensity exercise stimulates ghrelin levels independent of exercise duration. Stimulation of food intake during prolonged exercise is most likely not due to changes of ghrelin.