1. Seven healthy males were studied during cycle ergometer exercise at 33%, 66% and 90% of V̇o2 max. on three occasions when NH4Cl, NaHCO3 or CaCO3 (as a control substance) were administered in gelatin capsules double blind and in randomized order. Plasma growth hormone (HGH), lactic acid and hydrogen ion concentration ([H+])weremeasured at frequent intervals.
2. Ammonium chloride produced highest blood [H+] and NaHCO3 the lowest. These differences were maintained during exercise and in recovery. Plasma lactic acid concentrations were similar at rest. At 66%, 90% V̇o2 max. and recovery lactic acid was highest with NaHCO3 and lowest with NH4Cl.
3. Exercise stimulated HGH secretion in all studies and the elevation was proportional to the intensity of the exercise. NH4Cl caused a variable elevation of HGH at rest and 33% V̇o2 max. At 66% V̇o2 max., plasma HGH was significantly elevated to similar concentrations in all studies and, at 90% V̇o2 max., HGH was highest with NaHCO3.
4. An infusion of sodium l(+)-lactate producing plasma lactate concentrations of 3–5 mmol/l did not influence HGH secretion.
5. Exercise is a physiological stimulus to HGH secretion and the mechanism is independent of blood [H+] and lactate concentrations.