Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is a mitogen for prostate epithelial cells. To investigate associations between plasma IGF levels and prostate cancer risk, a nested case-control study within the Physicians' Health Study was conducted on prospectively collected plasma from 152 cases and 152 controls. A strong positive association was observed between IGF-I levels and prostate cancer risk. Men in the highest quartile of IGF-I levels had a relative risk of 4.3 (95 percent confidence interval 1.8 to 10.6) compared with men in the lowest quartile. This association was independent of baseline prostate-specific antigen levels. Identification of plasma IGF-I as a predictor of prostate cancer risk may have implications for risk reduction and treatment.