Mean plasma GH concentrations are controlled by the frequency, amplitude, and duration of underlying GH secretory bursts as well as by the half-life of endogenous GH. We investigated the specific mechanisms that subserve the clinically recognized negative effects of age and adiposity on mean serum GH concentrations. To this end, 21 healthy men, aged 21-71 yr, who were of nearly normal body weight underwent blood sampling at 10-min intervals for 24 h. Deconvolution analysis was used to estimate specific features of GH secretion and clearance. Compared to younger men, the older tertile of men had significant reductions in 1) GH secretory burst frequency, 2) the half-life of endogenous GH, and 3) the daily GH secretory rate, but not 4) GH secretory burst half-duration, amplitude, or mass. Linear regression analysis disclosed that age was a major negative statistical determinant of GH secretory burst frequency (r = -0.80; P = 0.005) and endogenous GH half-life (r = -0.70; P = 0.024). Body mass index, an indicator of relative obesity, was a significant negative correlate of GH half-life (P = 0.045) and GH secretory burst amplitude (P = 0.031). Age and body mass index each correlated negatively with the daily GH secretion rate (P = 0.0031 and P = 0.027, respectively), and together accounted for more than 60% of the variability in 24-h GH production rates (r = -0.78; P = 0.00056). On the average, for a normal body mass index, each decade of increasing age attenuated the GH production rate by 14% and the GH half-life by 6%. Conversely, each unit increase in body mass index, at a given age, reduced the daily GH secretion rate by 6%. We conclude that age and relative adiposity are distinct and specific correlates of individual attributes of GH secretion and clearance in men.