A radioimmunoassay (RIA) for recombinant tilapia growth hormone (GH) was established and validated. The ability of various hypothalamic factors to regulate GH secretion in the tilapia hybrid (Oreochromis niloticus x Oreochromis aureus) was studied. Somatostatin1-14 (SRIF1-14; 10-100 μg/kg) was found to reduce circulating GH levels in a dose-dependent manner. SRIF1-14 (0.1-1000 nM) inhibited GH release from perifused pituitary fragments (ED50 0.83 nM). Human growth hormone-releasing hormone fragment 1-29 (hGHRH1−29; 100 μg/kg) doubled circulating GH levels and modestly stimulated GH secretion in vitro. Carp growth hormone-releasing hormone (cGHRH) stimulated GH secretion in vitro to a similar degree at the same dose (1 μM). Injection of salmon gonadotropin-releasing hormone (sGnRH) superactive analog (10-100 μg/kg) increased plasma GH levels sixfold. sGnRH also stimulated GH release in vitro (ED50 142.56 nM). Dopamine (0.1-10 μM) and the D1 DA receptor agonist SKF 38393 increased GH secretion from perifused pituitary fragments dose-relatedly. Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) had no effect on GH secretion from perifused pituitary fragments, but increased plasma GH levels, as did bovine thyroid stimulating hormone (bTSH). The increased plasma GH in the bTSH-treated fish coincided with a dramatic increase in T4; however, TRH increased GH without changing T4 levels. T3 increased the synthesis of GH by isolated pituitaries (incorporation of [3H]leucine). SRIF1-14 seems to be a most potent hypothalamic regulator of GH secretion in tilapia; sGnRH and DA both increased GH secretion, although sGnRH elicited considerably greater responses at lower doses. Two forms of GHRH increased GH levels, although the unavailability of the homologous peptide prevented an accurate evaluation of its importance in regulating GH secretion. The thyroid axis (TRH, TSH, and T3) stimulates both synthesis and release of GH, although TRH did not appear to have a direct effect on the level of the pituitary.