Patients with severe liver disease often have high baseline plasma GH levels and/or paradoxical GH release in response to several secretagogues, e.g. TRH. In this paper, we have investigated in a group of cirrhotic patients the GH response to GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) and evaluated the effectiveness of GHRH to cause GH release in TRH responder and non-responder patients. Ten patients and seven age- and sex-matched control subjects were given bolus injections of GHRH (0.1 and 1.0 microgram/kg i.v. on separate occasions). GHRH 0.1 microgram/kg failed to cause a GH response in both control and cirrhotic subjects, but 1.0 microgram/kg caused a significantly higher GH response in patients than in controls. Evaluation of the GH response curve after GHRH revealed a similar pattern of secretion in the TRH-responders (four subjects) and non-responders (six subjects). These results suggest that the enhanced GH responsiveness to GHRH in cirrhotic patients may contribute to their high baseline GH levels and/or secretory rate, and the mechanism(s) of the paradoxical GH rise after TRH seems to be separate from that for GH hyperresponsiveness to GHRH.