Lactation embodies a natural model of morphological, neurochemical, and functional brain plasticity. In this reproductive stage, the hippocampus of the female is less sensitive to excitotoxins in contrast to nulliparity. Growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) are known to be neuroprotective in several experimental models of brain lesion. Here, activation of the GH–IGF1 pituitary–brain axis following kainic acid (7.5 mg/kg i.p. KA) lesion was studied in lactating and nulliparous rats. Serum concentrations of GH and IGF1 were uncoupled in lactation. Compared to virgin rats, the basal concentration of GH increased up to 40% but IGF1 decreased 58% in dams, and only GH increased further after KA treatment. In the hippocampus, basal expression of GH mRNA was higher (2.8-fold) in lactating rats than in virgin rats. GH mRNA expression in lactating rats increased further after KA administration in the hippocampus and in the hypothalamus, in parallel to GH protein concentration in the hippocampus of KA-treated lactating rats (43% vs lactating control), as detected by Western blot and immunofluorescence. Except for the significantly lower mRNA concentration in the liver of lactating rats, IGF1 expression was not altered by the reproductive condition or by KA treatment in the hippocampus and hypothalamus. Present results indicate upregulation of GH expression in the hippocampus after an excitotoxic lesion, suggesting paracrine/autocrine actions of GH as a factor underlying neuroprotection in the brain of the lactating dam. Since no induction of IGF1 was detected, present data suggest a direct action of GH.