Nutritional status is a key regulator of the circulating and tissue insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system. IGF-I mRNA and protein levels decrease in tissues such as liver and intestine with fasting and are restored with refeeding. Additional studies suggest that the level of protein and calorie intake independently regulate plasma IGF-I concentrations in man. The level of nutrition effects the biological actions of recombinant growth hormone (GH) and IGF-I administration in humans. Limited data demonstrate that plasma and tissue levels of the insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBPs) are also sensitive to nutrient intake. Specific micronutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and zinc also appear to be important for optimal IGF-I synthesis and anabolic effects in animal models. Malnutrition is common in elderly patients, however, the interaction between specific nutrients, general nutritional status and the aging process on the IGF system is incompletely understood. Mechanisms of nutrient-IGF system interactions which may affect the biological actions of IGF-I, IGF-II, and the IGFBPs are increasingly being determined in basic studies. The effects of underlying nutritional status and responses to dietary intake will be important to evaluate in clinical studies of the IGF system and exogenous growth factor therapy.