As the tests for detecting growth hormone (GH) abuse develop further, it is likely that athletes will turn to doping with insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). IGF-I mediates many of the anabolic actions of growth hormone. It stimulates muscle protein synthesis, promotes glycogen storage and enhances lipolysis, all of which make IGF-I attractive as a potential performance-enhancing agent. Pharmaceutical companies have developed commercial preparations of recombinant human IGF-I (rhIGF-I) for use in disorders of growth. The increased availability of rhIGF-I increases the opportunity for athletes to acquire supplies of the drug on the black market. The long-term effects of IGF-I administration are currently unknown but it is likely that these will be similar to the adverse effects of chronic GH abuse. The detection of IGF-I abuse is a challenge for anti-doping organisations. Research has commenced into the development of a test for IGF-I abuse based on the measurement of markers of GH action. Simultaneously, the effects of rhIGF-I on physical fitness, body composition and substrate utilisation in healthy volunteers are being investigated.