Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) is the major carrier of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) in serum, and its production is growth hormone (GH) dependent. It is unclear whether in humans IGFBP-3 production is directly regulated by GH or mediated via IGF-I. We addressed this question in six patients with Laron-type dwarfism, a syndrome characterized by the absence of GH receptor activity (LTD), who were chronically treated with recombinant IGF-I. Analysis of the electrophoretic profiles of serum IGFBPs in these patients by Western ligand blotting reveald an extremely low IGFBP-3 level. A striking progressive increased in serum IGFBP-3 was observed with continuous treatment, despite the absence of GH action. In LTD children, serum IGFBP-3 increased up to 19-fold after six months of therapy and equalled levels observed in controls, whereas in adult LTD patients the increase was smaller. A rise in serum levels of 34, 30 and 24 kDa BPs (presumably IGFBP-2, -1 and -4, respectively was also noted with chronic IGF-I therapy. This proof of GH-independent induction of IGFBP-3 by IGF-I may be a major advantage in the therapeutic use of biosynthetic IGF-I in several types of short stature children.