Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I is a polypeptide that mediates the growth-promoting action of growth hormone in postnatal animals. The present study was conducted to examine whether orally administered IGF-I would be absorbed into the general circulation and also whether ingested IGF-I would enhance the growth of whole body as well as internal organs, and tissues in 3-week-old ICR-strain female weanling mice. In experiment (Exp) 1, a total of 70 mice received IGF-I orally at 1 microg.g-1 in 0.2-ml PBS or the vehicle alone. Concentrations of IGF-I and glucose in heart blood were measured after killing 5 animals in each group every fourth hour during a 24-hour period. In Exp 2, a total of 40 mice received oral IGF-I administration at 1 microg.g-1 or vehicle every third day beginning from day 0 for a 13-day period. Half the animals were killed at day 7 and the other half at day 13. Weights of whole body and organs/tissues (small intestine, liver, thigh muscle, and brain) were measured every day and at slaughter, respectively. In Exp 1, following the oral IGF-I administration, serum IGF-I concentration increased at hour 4 (p<0.01) and returned to the hour 0 level by hour 8, whereas glucose concentration was lowest at hour 4 and returned to the hour 0 level by hour 16. In the PBS-fed group, neither IGF-I nor glucose concentration changed during the 24-hour period. In Exp 2, weight of small intestine increased (p<0.05) in response to the oral IGF-I, whereas weights of liver and thigh muscle of the IGF-I-fed group were greater (p<0.01) and tended to be greater (p=0.06), respectively, than those of the PBS-fed only at day 13. However, brain weight and serum concentrations of IGF-I and IGF-II were not affected by oral IGF-I administration. Results suggest that although orally administered IGF-I mainly acts at the intestine, a portion of ingested IGF-I is absorbed into the general circulation to enhance the growth of selective organs/tissues in weanling mice.