The aim of this study, in 36 week-old laying broiler breeder hens, was to establish the effects on reproductive neuroendocrine gene expression of reinstating ad libitum food intake after moderate food restriction from 2 weeks of age. Seven days of ad libitum feeding increased the number of large pre-ovulatory ovarian follicles and gonadotropin releasing hormone-I (GnRH-I), glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit and follistatin mRNAs. Plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) was also increased while plasma follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) was reduced. There were no associated changes in gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH), LHbeta or FSHbeta mRNAs. The mechanism underlying the increased expression of alpha-subunit and follistatin mRNAs was investigated in vitro by incubating pituitary fragments with pulses of GnRH-I. This treatment increased alpha-subunit and follistatin mRNAs but did not affect gonadotropin beta-subunit mRNAs. It is concluded that lifting food restriction in laying hens increases GnRH-I gene transcription or mRNA stability which may be a consequence, or cause of increased GnRH-I release. This, in turn, increases glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit and follistatin mRNAs, resulting in increased plasma LH and decreased plasma FSH, respectively.