The malnutrition caused by liver cirrhosis (LC) often worsens the course of the disease. Patients affected by LC often have a low bioavailability of the anabolic liver peptide insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of low doses of IGF-I on the nutritional status and in vivo jejunal transport of d-galactose in anatomically, pathologically and biochemically confirmed moderate, non-ascitic, cirrhotic rats. LC was experimentally induced in growing rats by inhalation of CCl4 and addition of phenobarbital to drinking water. Both the nutritional status, as evaluated by N balance, and in vivo intestinal transport of d-galactose, were significantly impaired in cirrhotic rats. As compared with healthy rats, administration of 20μg human recombinant IGF-I/kg body weight for 14d to cirrhotic rats significantly improved N balance variables and restored in vivo intestinal transport of the sugar. However, IGF-I had no effect on the steatorrhoea associated with LC. These results suggest that low doses of IGF-I may have beneficial effects on the malnutrition associated with moderate LC.