In the brain of adult rats neurogenesis persists in the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles and in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. By contrast, low proliferative activity was observed in the hypothalamus. We report here that, after intracerebroventricular treatment with insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), cell proliferation significantly increased in both the periventricular and the parenchymal zones of the whole hypothalamus. Neurons, astrocytes, tanycytes, microglia and endothelial cells of the local vessels were stained with the proliferative marker 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) in response to IGF-I. Conversely, we never observed BrdU-positive ciliated cubic ependymal cells. Proliferation was intense in the subventricular area of a distinct zone of the mid third ventricle wall limited dorsally by ciliated cubic ependyma and ventrally by tanycytic ependyma. In this area, we saw a characteristic cluster of proliferating cells. This zone of the ventricular wall displayed three cell layers: ciliated ependyma, subependyma and underlying tanycytes. After IGF-I treatment, proliferating cells were seen in the subependyma and in the layer of tanycytes. In the subependyma, proliferating glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive astrocytes contacted the ventricle by an apical process bearing a single cilium and there were many labyrinthine extensions of the periventricular basement membranes. Both features are typical of neurogenic niches in other brain zones, suggesting that the central overlapping zone of the rat hypothalamic wall could be considered a neurogenic niche in response to IGF-I.