Recombinant chicken insulin-like growth factor-I (cIGF-I) has been produced in Escherichia coli after first modifying a plasmid that coded for a human IGF-I (hIGF-I) fusion protein, in order to introduce codons for the eight amino acid substitutions. The cIGF-I fusion protein, deposited in bacterial inclusion bodies, was dissolved under reducing conditions, desalted, subjected to anion-exchange chromatography to remove proteinases, refolded and partially purified by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. The fusion protein was cleaved with hydroxylamine after which cIGF-I was purified to homogeneity by three additional chromatographic steps. Recombinant cIGF-I was equipotent with hIGF-I in cell culture bioassays of protein synthesis and breakdown using rat L6 myoblasts and chick embryo fibroblasts. Binding of radiolabelled cIGF-I and hIGF-I was also equivalent in the two cell lines, as was their binding in ligand blots of chicken, sheep and human plasma. The cross-reactivity of cIGF-I in a polyclonal hIGF-I radioimmunoassay was 60% of that observed with hIGF-I. The availability of recombinant cIGF-I will facilitate investigations into the role of IGF-I in chicken growth and development.