Recent studies have shown that homologues of the mammalian IGF-I and -II genes are also found in teleosts. We report here the cDNAs coding for IGF-I and IGF-II cloned from the gilthead seabream, Sparus aurata. Sequence comparisons revealed that both IGFs have been well conserved among teleosts, although Sparus IGF-I is shorter by three amino acid residues due to truncated B-and C-domains. Using the cloned cDNAs as probes, the relative expression of IGF-I and IGF-II mRNAs were assayed in different Sparus tissues. Sparus liver clearly contained the highest level of IGF-I mRNA while relatively high levels of IGF-II mRNA were found in liver, heart and gill using the ribonuclease protection assay. After GH administration the amount of IGF-I mRNA was increased by 220% in liver but no changes in IGF-II mRNA levels were detected in any tissue. We also assayed the expression of IGF-I and IGF-II in Sparus during early development. The IGF-II mRNA level was highest in larva 1 day after hatching and decreased thereafter. In contrast, IGF-I mRNA was detected in 1-day-old larva but there was an increase in expression in 12- and 16-day-old larva. These results demonstrated that the expression of IGF-I and IGF-II is highly regulated in teleosts and suggest that they play distinct roles during growth and development.