In rats, food deprivation inhibits episodic growth hormone (GH) secretion. On the basis of previous studies, we hypothesized that during a recovery from prolonged fasting, caloric intake stimulates the release of GH-releasing factor (GRF) and this process does not depend on the specific macronutrients in the meal, while protein in the meal acts to restore characteristic ultradian rhythmicity of GH secretion. To test this hypothesis, the effect of caloric intake on GH secretion was examined in fasted adult male Wistar rats devoid of somatostatin (SS) influence on GH secretion either by anterolateral deafferentation (ALC) of the medial basal hypothalamus (MBH) or administration of anti-SS goat serum (ASS). Rats were provided with an indwelling right atrial cannula and were deprived of food for 72 h. ALC was performed 2 weeks prior to the study. ASS was given i.v. 8 h and 7 h prior to refeeding, respectively. Serial blood specimens were collected every 10 min. In rats with ALC (ALC rats) or rats given ASS (ASS rats), the blood GH level revealed irregularly occurring small fluctuations, instead of the usual high bursts and low trough level. The baseline GH level and the mean GH level of fasted ALC rats or fasted ASS rats were significantly lower than those of fed ALC rats or fed ASS rats. Feeding the isocaloric mixed meal, the protein meal or the protein-deficient meal increased the GH pulse frequency, the pulse amplitude, the baseline GH level and the mean GH level in 72-h fasted ALC rats. These changes in GH secretory pattern persisted during the period of observation and were independent of the type of meal ingested. Following feeding the mixed meal, similar changes in the GH secretory pattern demonstrated in 72-h fasted ALC rats were also observed in 72-h fasted ASS rats, suggesting that the stimulation of GH secretion following caloric intake is not limited to ALC rats. Since the influence of SS on GH secretion has been largely eliminated in ALC or ASS rats, it is highly unlikely that the augmentation of GH secretion following feeding after prolonged food deprivation was the consequence of inhibition of SS secretion. Although GRF measurement was not performed, it is conceivable that the signal of caloric intake is conveyed to the MBH and acts to stimulate GRF release.