In teleosts, prolactin is involved in calcium regulation, but its role in scale/bone metabolism is unclear. Using the in-vitro system with goldfish scales developed recently, we explored the effects of teleost prolactin, growth hormone, and somatolactin on osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Addition of prolactin at concentrations of 0.01-100 ng/ml reduced osteoclastic activity, partly via osteoclast apoptosis, after 6-18 h incubation. Conversely, growth hormone and somatolactin at a concentration of 100 ng/ml increased osteoclastic activity after 18 h incubation, indicating the specificity of the inhibitory effect of prolactin on osteoclastic activity. On the other hand, these three hormones promoted osteoblastic activity at concentrations of 10-100 ng/ml. The results from this study are the first demonstration of direct effects of prolactin on scale/bone metabolism and osteoclastic activity in a teleost.