Neurotrophic effects of the growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and insulin on the central nervous system have become more apparent in the past decade. In this study, we measured serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of GH, IGF-1 and insulin in 35 patients with motor neuron disease (MND) [24 patients with definite amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and 11 patients with progressive bulbar palsy] and in 40 healthy controls. Levels of serum concentrations of GH and IGF-1 did not significantly differ between the MND patient group and the healthy controls, while the level of insulin was significantly decreased (P = 0.0033) in the MND patient group. However, levels of all three examined parameters in CSF were significantly lower in the MND group than in the healthy controls with the statistical significance for IGF-1 and insulin of P < 0.001. This finding has not been reported previously, and further investigations into its association with ALS should establish whether it can be used as an early marker of the disease, or whether it merely represents a consequence of ALS development.