In healthy adults insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I levels do not differ between males and females, whereas spontaneous growth hormone (GH) secretion is approximately twofold higher in females. Untreated GH-deficient (GHD) women exhibit lower IGF-I levels compared with men and the increase in serum IGF-I during GH replacement is also significantly less. These data suggest a resistance to GH in women, which in healthy subjects is compensated for by increased GH secretion. Administration of oral oestrogen in healthy postmenopausal women suppresses hepatic IGF-I production and increases pituitary GH release, and oral oestrogen replacement in women with GHD lowers IGF-I concentrations and increases the amount of GH necessary to achieve IGF-I target levels during treatment. These data clearly suggest that hepatic suppression of IGF-I production by oestrogen subserves the gender difference in GH sensitivity, but it is also likely that sex steroids may interact with the GH/IGF axis at other levels. There is also circumstantial evidence to indicate that testosterone stimulates IGF-I production and it is speculated that a certain threshold level of androgens is essential to ensure hepatic IGF-I production. Whether these data should translate into earlier discontinuation of oestrogen replacement therapy in women with hypopituitarism merits consideration.