We have examined the effects of human GH-releasing factor (1–44) (GRF), cortisol and somatostatin-(1–14) on GH gene expression in solid tissue and dispersed cells from human pituitary adenomas using quantitative in-situ hybridization histochemistry. Sections cut from tissue obtained at hypophysectomy from three acromegalic patients were hybridized to probes directed against mature α-subunit, GH, prolactin, pro-opiomelanocortin, TSHβ-subunit and LHβ-subunit mRNA. Only one biopsy contained GH mRNA in isolation. A second was found to co-exhibit GH, prolactin and α-subunit mRNA, and a third was found to contain prolactin, TSHβ-subunit, α-subunit and LHβ-subunit mRNA, with GH mRNA below the limit of specific detection, indicating that the sample was composed of normal rather than adenomatous pituitary tissue. GH mRNA in individual dispersed cells derived from the latter declined to barely detectable levels over 287 h, both in cultures containing GRF (10 ng/ml) or GRF (10 ng/ml) plus somatostatin (10 ng/ml) and in controls, but increased fourfold in cultures containing GRF (10 ng/ml) plus cortisol (0·5 μmol/l). GH mRNA remained unchanged in both adenoma samples over 138 and 450 h, irrespective of the addition of GRF or GRF plus hydrocortisone. In these samples, somatostatin plus GRF had no consistent effect. These studies confirm that quantitative in-situ hybridization histochemistry can be used to investigate hormone gene regulation in small samples of human tissue and should enable us to define more clearly the level at which abnormal gene regulation occurs.