The effect on GH secretion of GH-releasing factor (GRF), a 44-amino acid peptide recently isolated from a human pancreatic tumor (hpGRF), was examined in conscious male rabbits. During a 6-h period (1030-1630 h) of the control study individual rabbits exhibited pulsatile GH release with a surge at 1030-1200 h, a trough at 1200-1400 h, and a second peak at 1400-1630 h. Intravenous bolus injections of 1 and 10 micrograms hpGRF caused significant and dose-related increases in plasma GH during both the period of the trough (1300 h) and the surge (1530 h), although the GH responses were obviously higher during the latter than the former period. Passive immunization with anti-somatostatin (SRIF) sheep serum resulted in a prompt increase in plasma GH immediately after an injection of the antiserum. When 0.1, 1, and 10 micrograms hpGRF were successively injected iv at 1215, 1345, and 1515 h, respectively, maximum levels of plasma GH after hpGRF in anti-SRIF sheep serum-treated rabbits were significantly higher than in animals given normal sheep serum. The plasma GH responses to 10 micrograms hpGRF, given iv only once at 1515 h in normal sheep serum-treated animals, were not different from those to 10 micrograms hpGRF injected at 1515 h after the prior administration either of the smaller hpGRF dose (0.1 micrograms, 1215 h; 1 microgram, 1345 h), nor of the large dose (10 micrograms, 1100 h). These findings suggest the following: 1) that the secretion of GH is pulsatile in conscious, unrestrained male rabbits; 2) that hpGRF is a potent secretagogue for GH release in rabbits as well as other species; 3) that the magnitude of plasma GH response to hpGRF is different according to timing of the injection during the course of pulsatile GH secretion but is not influenced by the prior administration of hpGRF (no priming effect); and 4) that the responsiveness of plasma GH to hpGRF is affected by circulating endogenous SRIF.