The effect of 2 months of treatment with the oral growth hormone (GH) secretagogue MK-677 on markers of bone metabolism was determined in healthy obese male subjects. This was a randomized, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study. Twenty-four healthy obese males, 19-49 years of age, with body mass index > 30 kg/m2 were treated with MK-677 (25 mg/day; n = 12) or placebo (n = 12) for 8 weeks. MK-677 increased markers of bone formation; a 23% increase in the carboxy-terminal propeptide of type I procollagen levels and a 28% increase in procollagen III peptide levels were seen with as little as 2 weeks of MK-677 treatment (p < 0.01 and p = 0.001 vs. placebo, respectively) while a 15% increase in serum levels of osteocalcin was not detected until 8 weeks of treatment (p < 0.01 vs. placebo). Markers of bone resorption were induced within 2 weeks of treatment with MK-677; serum levels of the carboxy-terminal cross-linked telopeptide of type I collagen were increased 26% at 8 weeks (p = 0.001 vs. placebo), and urine hydroxyproline/creatinine and calcium/creatinine ratios at 8 weeks were increased by 23% (p < 0.05 vs. placebo) and 46% (p < 0.05 vs placebo), respectively, MK-677 increased serum insulin-like growth factor binding protein-5 (IGFBP-5) by 43-44% after 2-8 weeks of treatment (p < 0.01 vs. placebo). Serum IGFBP-4 was increased by 25% after 2 weeks of treatment (p < 0.001 vs. placebo) but no significant change from baseline was observed after 8 weeks of treatment. Plasma interleukin-6 was not significantly changed by active treatment. In conclusion, short-term treatment of healthy obese male volunteers with the GH secretagogue MK-677 increases markers of both bone resorption and formation. Large increases in serum levels of IGF-1 and IGFBP-5 and a transient increase in serum IGFBP-4 were found. Future long-term studies are needed to investigate if prolonged treatment with MK-677 increases bone mass.