The prediction of birth weight may be improved by the measurement of hormones or growth factors in the mother. We measured body weight (BW) and plasma levels of placental GH (PGH), IGF-I, IGF-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1), and leptin at the time of the glucose challenge test (GCT) in 289 women, who were pregnant with a single fetus, between 24 and 29 wk gestational age (GA). Delivery occurred 12 +/- 2 (mean +/- SD) wk later. First, we examined which variables regulate these hormonal factors. Multiple regression showed that PGH concentrations were determined by GA at sampling and were negatively related to BW. IGF-I levels were mainly determined by PGH, and also by insulin, BW, and (negatively) age. IGFBP-1 concentrations were negatively determined by BW, insulin, and IGF-I. BW was also a powerful determinant of leptin levels, with insulin as a less robust determinant. Second, we examined the relation to glucose levels. PGH, IGF-I, and IGFBP-1 concentrations were not correlated with post-GCT glucose levels and were comparable in women with a normal or disturbed GCT (glucose >/=7.8 mmol/liter; n = 72). Finally, we examined the relation with birth weight and placental weight. Birth weight, corrected for GA and stratified into percentile groups, and the ponderal index at birth were strongly related to maternal BW, but not to maternal PGH, IGF-I, or IGFBP-1 levels. Neither was maternal leptin related to birth weight, but leptin concentrations were slightly higher in women who delivered obese babies. Placental weight was not related to any of the hormonal factors. This prospective study indicates that the variation in circulating PGH, IGF-I, IGFBP-1, and leptin between 24 and 29 wk of pregnancy is strongly dependent on maternal BW, but is unrelated to glucose tolerance. In addition, the measurement of PGH, IGF-I, IGFBP-1, or leptin at the time of the GCT is not useful clinically to predict birth weight.