The proliferation-promoting activity of sera obtained from pigs before and after porcine growth hormone injections was tested in a muscle cell culture bioassay. For 3 d, purified porcine growth hormone (pGH) was administered by intramuscular injection to crossbred barrows. Two levels of pGH were administered: 18 micrograms pGH X kg-1 body weight X d-1 (low dose) or 143 micrograms pGH X kg-1 body weight X d-1 (high dose). Multiple blood samples were withdrawn from jugular catheters for 3 d prior to the injection, during the injection period and for 6 d after the last injection. Although serum pGH levels in low-dose pigs were raised from two to three times pre-injection levels, there was no significant change in serum proliferation-promoting activity or somatomedin-C (SmC), insulin or cortisol levels during or after administration of pGH. In contrast, the proliferation-promoting activity of sera obtained during and after the high-dose pGH injections was higher (P less than .005) than the pre-injection levels. Serum pGH levels were increased approximately 30-fold by 4 h after each injection, and increases in SmC levels were observed 10 to 16 h after the pGH injection. During the injection period SmC levels increased from 1.7 to 4 times pre-injection levels. Insulin and cortisol levels did not change significantly during the 3-d treatment period. We believe that this muscle cell culture bioassay system will be a useful addition to traditional radioimmunoassays and whole animal studies in elucidating the mode of action of pGH in pituitary-intact swine.