A reduced protein intake causes a decrease in insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) concentrations and modulates Ca homoeostasis in young goats. IGF1 is synthesised by the liver in response to stimulation by growth hormone (GH). Due to rumino-hepatic circulation of urea, ruminants are suitable for investigating the effects of protein reduction despite sufficient energy intake. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of a protein-reduced diet on the expression of components of the somatotropic axis. Male young goats were divided into two feeding groups receiving either a control diet (20 % crude protein (CP)) or a reduced-protein diet (9 % CP). Blood concentrations of IGF1 and GH were measured, and a 24-h GH secretion profile was compiled. Moreover, ionised Ca and insulin concentrations as well as mRNA and protein expression levels of hepatic proteins involved in GH signalling were quantified. Due to the protein-reduced diet, concentrations of ionised Ca, insulin and IGF1 decreased significantly, whereas GH concentrations remained unchanged. Expression levels of the hepatic GH receptor (GHR) decreased during protein reduction. GHR expression was down-regulated due to diminished insulin concentrations as both parameters were positively correlated. Insulin itself might be reduced due to reduced blood Ca levels that are involved in insulin release. The protein-reduced diet had an impact on the expression of components of the somatotropic axis as a disruption of the GH–IGF1 axis brought about by diminished GHR expression was shown in response to a protein-reduced diet.