Gastrointestinal nematode infection in sheep changes the nutritional economy of the host, but little is known about the effects of infection on the hormonal systems that regulate the metabolism of the animal. This study examined two key hormones, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and leptin, in genetically resistant and random bred control Merino sheep in the presence or absence of nematode infection. Sixty-four 10-month-old Rylington Merino wethers, half from the parasite-resistant line and half from unselected control line, were initially maintained at two body conditions (body condition scores averaged 1.7 and 2.5) in individual pens in an animal house. The animals were kept parasite-free for 9 weeks, then 'trickle-infected' with Trichostrongylus colubriformis and Teladorsagia circumcincta larvae, each at a rate of 10000 per week, for 13 weeks. Each body condition score group was subdivided into two groups at the beginning of the infection procedure and feed supply was controlled at 1x or 1.5x the maintenance metabolisable energy requirement. Plasma IGF-1 concentrations decreased marginally by day 21 of infection, then markedly by day 49, and then remained low until day 84. Plasma leptin concentrations tended to increase during the infection period. Both body condition and feed intake had significant effects on IGF-1 and leptin concentrations, and the higher concentrations were related to the good body condition or high feed intake. The parasite-resistant sheep had consistently higher concentrations of IGF-1 compared with the controls, whereas the concentrations of leptin were similar. The significant changes in IGF-1 but not leptin suggest that infection may have a more significant impact on protein anabolism, and least impact on lipid metabolism. Selection for parasite resistance appears to result in enhanced protein anabolism.