The response of follicles to IGF1 was compared between the transition into the ovulatory season (transitional period) and the ovulatory season (ovulatory period) in eight mares using a cross-over experimental design within periods. Granulosa cells were collected from follicles 15-24 or 25-34 mm and expression of IGF1R, IGF2R, FSHR, LHCGR and PAPPA was determined by qPCR. In addition, 10 mg IGF1 or vehicle were injected into the largest follicle (transitional period) or the second largest follicle (ovulatory period) of a follicular wave before the beginning of diameter deviation between the two largest follicles (mean diameters at injection 19.2 and 20.0 mm during transitional and ovulatory periods respectively). Follicular fluid was collected 24 h after injection for determination of free IGF1, IGFBP, inhibin A and oestradiol levels. Granulosa cells from follicles 25-34 mm, but not follicles 15-24 mm, expressed higher levels of IGF1R (P=0.01), FSHR (P < 0.007) and LHCGR (P=0.09) during the ovulatory period than during the transitional period, whereas IGF2R expression was higher in transitional than ovulatory follicles (P=0.06). Follicular IGFBP2 levels were not different (P > 0.1) between periods and treatments, whereas IGFBP5 levels were higher (P < 0.05) during the ovulatory period. Finally, IGF1 injection before the beginning of deviation induced an approximately twofold increase (P=0.01) in follicular inhibin A levels during each period and did not affect oestradiol (P > 0.1). These results suggest that, as during ovulatory waves, equine follicles during transitional waves are responsive to IGF1 before the beginning of deviation and that, therefore, inadequate IGF1 responsiveness before deviation may not underlie the deficient development of dominant follicles during transition.