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The aim of this study was to characterize ir-IGF-I pattern and its relation to other hormones during the oestrous cycle in mares. Nine non-pregnant non-lactating pluriparous thoroughbred mares were used. The studied mares were examined ultrasonically and bled daily to follow the ovarian changes and the hormonal milieu for a complete Interovulatory interval (IOI). Two (minor and major) follicular waves were characterized per IOI in thoroughbred mares. The largest follicle of the first follicular wave (DF1) was firstly detected at D – 1.75 ± 0.47 with a growth rate of 2.78 ± 0.14 mm/day and maximum diameter of 22.45 ± 0.75 mm on day 6.65 ± 0.82. The largest follicle of the second follicular wave (DF2) had a growth rate of 2.15 ± 0.29 mm/day, reached a maximum diameter of 42.70 ± 2.63 mm on D 19.25 ± 0.43. Ir-IGF-I increased significantly prior to ovulation and had a similar pattern to oestrogen (r = 0.84, p < 0.05), suggesting that the ovarian follicles are the main source of circulating ir-IGF-I during the oestrous cycle of mares and that ir-IGF-I may be a crucial factor in follicular differentiation and maturation. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that ir-IGF-I is secreted during the oestrous phase of the cycle concomitant with the development of the future ovulatory dominant follicle, and it may act in synergy with other hormones for the selection and differentiation of the dominant follicle.