Secretory characteristics of the ghrelin profile for the pig are still unknown. Our objective was to clarify the mechanisms that influence ghrelin secretion during differing feeding patterns. Pigs were initially fed a commercial pelleted diet offered ad libitum and blood samples collected for 24 h at intervals of 1 h. The pigs were then entrained for 17 days to a twice daily interval feeding regimen (0900'1000 and 1600'1700 h) and blood samples were collected for 12 h (0800'2000 h). This was followed by a similar interval feeding and blood sampling regimen with the 0900'1000 h feeding period being replaced by a sham feed where pigs were shown their usual feed but none offered. During the ad libitum feeding regimen, there was no preprandial rise or postprandial fall in circulating plasma total ghrelin concentration, which remained constant throughout the sampling period. In addition, no preprandial rise or postprandial fall in ghrelin concentrations was observed when pigs were fed either twice or once daily; however, plasma ghrelin concentration rose gradually over the 12-h sampling period during the twice daily feeding regimen and increased further when pigs were fed once per day. This increase in ghrelin levels coincided with an increase in plasma GH and non-esterified fatty acid concentrations and was not associated with either plasma glucose or insulin concentrations. These results suggest that circulating total plasma ghrelin concentrations in the pig appear to be influenced by chronic changes in energy balance rather than the feeding pattern per se.