The work described was carried out to study the expression of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and growth hormone-receptor (GHR) mRNA in liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue from three breeds of pig with varying growth characteristics. The three breeds studied were the Large Wlrite, noted for its lean tissue; the Duroc, characterized by its high intramuscular fat content; and the Meishan × Landrace (0·5 Meishan), noted for its fat, poorly conformed carcass and slower growth rate. The probes used were designed to monitor promoter usage for IGF-1 expression and also expression of the extra-cellular domain of the GHR. Eighteen gilts, six of each breed, were given a barley/wheat diet (158 g crude protein, 10·7 g lysine and 13·9 MJ energy per kg), to appetite, for 1 to 2 weeks until they reached about 85 kg. Samples of liver, longissimu s dorsi (LD) muscle and three adipose tissue depots (subcutaneous (SC), perirenal (PR) and omental (OM)) were collected immediately after slaughter and frozen in liquid nitrogen (total time of sample collection to plunging of sample into liquid nitrogen was <3 min), prior to extraction of total RNA and ribonuclease protection assays. Individual serum samples collected at exsanguination were frozen prior to IGF-1 radioimmunoassay. There were no breed differences in the serum IGF-1 concentrations (range 49 to 134 μg/l), or in expression of the GHR gene or either class of IGF-1 transcript in the liver. However, there was a significant difference between the breeds in expression of IGF-1 mRNA in the LD muscle (P < 0·001), the order being Duroc > Wliite > Meishan, with only class 1 transcripts of IGF-1 being found. GHR expression in LD muscle was lower in White than in the other tivo breeds (P = 0·022). There was a significant difference between the breeds in expression of IGF-1 mRNA (only class 1 transcripts present) in the adipose tissue (P = 0-006), the order being Wliite · Duroc · Meishan, and also a significant depot difference, with expression being highest in the SC depot (P < 0·001). There were no differences between the breeds or depots in expression of GHR mRNA in adipose tissue. The observed differences in muscle and adipose tissue IGF-1 expression may relate to the overall growth of the animal.