An efficient expression system in Escherichia coli for several biologically active insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) fusion peptide analogues is described. These novel IGF-I fusion protein analogues have properties that make them very useful reagents in the investigation of IGF-I action. The analogues comprise an IGF-I sequence and the first 11 amino acids of methionyl porcine growth hormone (pGH) and include [Met1]-pGH(1–11)-Val-Asn-IGF-I, which contains the authentic IGF-I sequence, and two analogues, [Met1]-pGH(1–11)-Val-Asn-[Gly3]-IGF-I and [Met1]-pGH(1–11)-Val-Asn-[Arg3]-IGF-I, where Glu3 in the human IGF-I sequence has been replaced by Gly or Arg respectively. The three peptides are referred to as Long IGF-I, Long [Gly3]-IGF-I or Long [Arg3]-IGF-I depending on the IGF-I sequence present. Production of the purified fusion peptides was aided by folding the reduced and denatured fusion peptide sequence under conditions that gave very high yields of biologically active product. Introduction of a hydrophobic N-terminal extension peptide appears to facilitate the correct folding of the IGF-I analogues compared with that obtained previously when folding normal-length IGFs. The biological activities of the IGF-I fusion peptides were compared with authentic IGF-I and the truncated analogue, des(1–3)IGF-I. In L6 rat myoblasts, all the analogues were more potent than authentic IGF-I in their abilities to stimulate protein and DNA synthesis and inhibit protein breakdown. In H35 hepatoma cells, where the IGFs act through the insulin receptor, the Long IGF-I analogues maintained a similar potency relative to IGF-I as was observed in the L6 myoblasts. The order of biological potency in cell lines secreting IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) into the medium was Long [Arg3]IGF-I-des(1–3)IGF-I>Long [Gly3]-IGF-I>Long IGF-I>IGF-I. In chicken embryo fibroblasts, a cell line that does not secrete detectable IGFBPs into the medium, Long [Arg3]-IGF-I, was less potent than IGF-I. Investigation of receptor and IGFBP association by these analogues reinforced our previous findings that N-terminal analogues of IGF-I show increased biological potency due to changes in the degree of their IGFBP interactions.