Secretion of growth hormone (GH) in adult male rats is characterized by high peak and undetectable trough levels, both of which are required for male-specific pattern of liver gene expression and GH-induced phosphorylation of STAT5. The present study suggests that regulation of GH receptor (GHR) levels in rat hepatoma cells by repeated GH stimulation determines GH responsiveness via the JAK2/STAT5 pathway. A short exposure to GH rapidly reduced GHR levels which resulted in an equal desensitization of the JAK2/STAT5 pathway. Recovery of GH-induced STAT5 phosphorylation correlated with the time-dependent recovery of GHR levels during incubation in the absence of GH. Acute GH also induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and Akt, and this induction was also inhibited by prior exposure to GH. However, unlike the JAK2/STAT5 pathway, the effect of GH to activate the MEK/ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathways did not recover following prolonged incubation in the absence of GH. Thus, GH administration desensitizes the JAK2/STAT5 pathway, possibly because of down-regulation of GHR, whereas an additional post-receptor mechanism is required for the prolonged refractoriness of the MEK/ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathways toward a second GH stimulation. Our study suggests that both receptor and post-receptor mechanisms are important in GH-induced homologous desensitization.