Mutations resulting in reduced signaling of the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 (GH/IGF-1) axis are associated with increased life- and healthspan across model organisms. Similar findings have been noted in human cohorts with functional mutations in the somatotropic axis, suggesting that this pathway may also be relevant to human aging and protection from age-related diseases. While epidemiological data indicate that low circulating IGF-1 level may protect aging populations from cancer, results remain inconclusive regarding most other diseases. We propose that studies in humans and animals need to consider differences in sex, pathway function, organs, and time-specific effects of GH/IGF-1 signaling in order to better define the role of the somatotropic axis in aging. Agents that modulate signaling of the GH/IGF-1 pathway are available for human use, but before they can be implemented in clinical studies that target aging and age-related diseases, researchers need to address the challenges discussed in this Review.