Serum levels of insulin-like growth factor I are reduced in patients with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. To evaluate the role of the hepatic growth hormone receptor in the decreased serum concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I, serum levels of the high affinity growth hormone-binding protein, which is qualitatively and quantitatively related to the hepatic growth hormone receptor, and of insulin-like growth factor I were measured in 70 children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes and 105 healthy control children. Analysis of variance revealed a significant negative effect of Type 1 diabetes on serum levels of the growth hormone-binding protein and of insulin-like growth factor I. In the diabetic patients, serum levels of the growth hormone-binding protein were positively related to body mass index and to insulin dose per kg body weight, and were not influenced by pubertal stage, gender, or plasma levels of haemoglobin A1c. Serum levels of insulin-like growth factor I increased during early puberty reaching peak levels at mid-puberty and decreasing thereafter. No relationship was found between serum levels of growth hormone-binding protein and of insulin-like growth factor I. Our data suggest that decreased liver somatogenic receptor levels, as reflected by the concentrations of circulating growth hormone-binding protein, play a minor role in the suppressed concentrations of circulating insulin-like growth factor I. Post-growth hormone receptor defects or changes in the insulin-like growth factor binding proteins probably contribute more to the lower serum levels of insulin-like growth factor I.