Abstract We report here the ontogenic changes in mRNA expression of chicken ghrelin (cGhrelin) and its receptor (cGHS-R1a) and the effects of fasting and refeeding on cGhrelin and cGHS-R1a mRNAs expression in 30-day-old broiler chickens. The level of cGhrelin mRNA in the proventriculus was low from embryo—day 15 (E15) to E19, but dramatically increased at post-hatching-day 2 (P2), then remained constant until P30 and followed by a significant decrease at P44 when there was a diet transition at P31 and thereafter. The decreased level was reversed at P58. Hypothalamic cGhrelin mRNA and proventriculus and hepatic cGHS-R1a mRNA were significantly increased at P30. The cGhrelin mRNA level in the proventriculus significantly increased in response to either 12-h or 36-h fasting but did not decrease after subsequent 12-h refeeding. The level of cGHS-R1a mRNA in the proventriculus was significantly upregulated in response to a 12-h fast but not to a 36-h fast and returned to the control level upon 12-h refeeding. Interestingly, it was apparent that the mRNA levels of both cGhrelin and cGHS-R1a in the liver were upregulated in response to fasting in a time-dependent manner and returned to the control level with subsequent refeeding. These results suggest that the expression pattern of ghrelin and its receptor mRNAs distinctly change in tissues depending on ontogenic stages and feeding states in poultry.