GHRH stimulates GH secretion in chickens as in mammals. However, nothing is known about the chicken GHRH receptor (GHRH-R). Here we report the cDNA sequence of chicken GHRH-R. Comparison of the cDNA sequence with the chicken genome localized the GHRH-R gene to chicken chromosome 2 and indicated that the chicken GHRH-R gene consists of 13 exons. Expression of all exons was confirmed by RT-PCR amplification of pituitary mRNA. The amino acid sequence predicted by the GHRH-R cDNA is homologous to that in other vertebrates and contains seven transmembrane domains and a conserved hormone-binding domain. The predicted size of the GHRH-R protein (48.9 kDa) was confirmed by binding of 125I-GHRH to chicken pituitary membranes and SDS-PAGE. GHRH-R mRNA was readily detected by RT-PCR in the pituitary but not in the hypothalamus, total brain, lung, adrenal, ovary, or pineal gland. Effects of corticosterone (CORT), GHRH, ghrelin, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide, somatostatin (SRIF), and TRH on GHRH-R and GH gene expression were determined in cultures of chicken anterior pituitary cells. GHRH-R and GH mRNA levels were determined by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Whereas all treatments affected levels of GH mRNA, only CORT, GHRH, and SRIF significantly altered GHRH-R mRNA levels. GHRH-R gene expression was modestly increased by GHRH and suppressed by SRIF at 4 h, and CORT dramatically decreased levels of GHRH-R mRNA at 72 h. We conclude that adrenal glucocorticoids may substantially impact pituitary GH responses to GHRH in the chicken through modulation of GHRH-R gene expression.