The remarkable progress in understanding the genetic basis of life-span determination in invertebrates indicates that impairments in the insulin-insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling cascade increase longevity. Similarities among insulin and IGF-1-like signaling pathways in invertebrates and mammals raise the possibility that modifications of these pathways may extend life span in mammals. Investigators using Ames, Snell, and growth hormone receptor knockout models have concluded that decreased growth hormone and IGF-1 are responsible for increased life span. In this review, we critique the dwarf models and, based on multiple endocrine deficiencies and developmental anomalies, conclude that these models may not be sufficient to assess the consequences of growth hormone or IGF-1 deficiency on either biological aging or life span. We attempt to resolve some of these issues by presenting an alternative animal model of growth hormone-IGF-1 deficiency. Finally, we propose an integrated explanation of growth hormone and IGF-1's contribution to the aging phenotype and life-span determination.