Effects of dietary protein restriction and ovariectomy on plasma concentrations and hepatic messenger RNA (mRNA) of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins (IGFBP) were investigated in young female rats. Ovariectomy increased plasma IGF-I concentration in rats fed on either a 50 g casein/kg diet (protein-restricted diet) or a 200 g casein/kg diet (control diet), but it increased IGF-I mRNA in liver only in the rats fed on the control diet. On the other hand, by Western ligand blot analysis, we observed that ovariectomy increased plasma IGFBP-3 concentration, and decreased plasma IGFBP-4 concentration. Ovariectomy did not affect IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 mRNA in liver, but dietary protein restriction significantly increased them, which may correspond to their plasma concentrations. The present results show that ovarian hormones and dietary protein content affect the plasma concentrations of IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-4 and hepatic mRNA of IGF-I, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-4 in different manners.