NN703 is a novel orally active GH secretagogue (GHS) derived from ipamorelin. NN703 stimulates GH release from rat pituitary cells in a dose-dependent manner with a potency and efficacy similar to that of GHRP-6. The effect is inhibited by known GHS antagonists, but not by a GH-releasing hormone antagonist. Binding of (35)S-MK677 to the human type 1A GHS receptor (GHS-R 1A) stably expressed on BHK cells was inhibited by GHRP-6 and MK677 as expected. NN703 was also able to inhibit the binding of (35)S-MK677. However, the observed K(i) value was lower than expected, as based on the observed potencies regarding GH release from rat pituitary cells. Similarly, the effect of NN703 on the GHS-R 1A-induced inositol phosphate turnover in these cells showed a lower potency, when compared with GHRP-6 and MK677, than that observed in rat pituitary cells. The effect of i.v. administration of NN703 on GH and cortisol release was studied in swine. The potency and efficacy of NN703 on GH release were determined to be 155+/-23 nmol/kg and 91+/-7 ng GH/ml plasma respectively. A 50% increase of cortisol, compared with basal levels, was observed for all the tested doses of NN703, but no dose-dependency was shown. The effect of NN703 on GH release after i. v. and oral dosing in beagle dogs was studied. NN703 dose-dependently increased the GH release after oral administration. At the highest dose (20 micromol/kg), a 35-fold increase in peak GH concentration was observed (49.5+/-17.8 ng/ml, mean+/-s.e.m.). After a single i.v. dose of 1 micromol/kg the peak GH plasma concentration was elevated to 38.5+/-19.6 ng/ml (mean+/-s.e.m.) approximately 30 min after dosing and returned to basal level after 360 min. The oral bioavailability was 30%. The plasma half-life of NN703 was 4.1+/-0.4 h. A long-term biological effect of NN703 was demonstrated in a rat study, where the body weight gain was measured during a 14-day once daily oral challenge with 100 micromol/kg. The body weight gain was significantly increased after 14 days as compared with a vehicle-treated group. In summary, we here describe an orally active and GH specific secretagogue, NN703. This compound acts through a similar mechanism as GHRP-6, but has a different receptor pharmacology. NN703 induced GH release in both swine and dogs after i.v. and/or p.o. administration, had a high degree of GH specificity in swine and significantly increased the body weight gain in rats.