Growth hormone (GH) initiates its cellular action by properly dimerizing GH receptor (GHR). A substantial fraction of circulating GH is complexed with a high-affinity GH-binding protein (GHBP) that in many species can be generated by GHR proteolysis and shedding of the receptor's ligand-binding extracellular domain. We previously showed that this proteolysis 1) can be acutely promoted by the phorbol ester phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), 2) requires a metalloprotease activity, 3) generates both shed GHBP and a membrane-associated GHR transmembrane/cytoplasmic domain remnant, and 4) results in down-regulation of GHR abundance and GH signaling. Using cell culture model systems, we now explore the effects of GH treatment on inducible GHR proteolysis and GHBP shedding. In human IM-9 lymphocytes, which endogenously express GHRs, and in Chinese hamster ovary cells heterologously expressing wild-type or cytoplasmic domain internal deletion mutant rabbit GHRs, brief exposure to GH inhibited PMA-induced GHR proteolysis (receptor loss and remnant accumulation) by 60-93%. PMA-induced shedding of GHBP from Chinese hamster ovary transfectants was also inhibited by 70% in the presence of GH. The capacity of GH to inhibit inducible GHR cleavage did not rely on JAK2-dependent GH signaling, as evidenced by its continued protection in JAK2-deficient γ2A rabbit GHR cells. The GH concentration dependence for inhibition of PMA-induced GHR proteolysis paralleled that for its promotion of receptor dimerization (as monitored by formation of GHR disulfide linkage). Unlike GH, the GH antagonist, G120K, which binds to but fails to properly dimerize GHRs, alone did not protect against PMA-induced GHR proteolysis; G120K did, however, antagonize the protective effect of GH. Our data suggest that GH inhibits PMA-induced GHR proteolysis and GHBP shedding by inducing GHR dimerization and that this effect does not appear to be related to GH site 1 binding, GHR internalization, or GHR signaling. The implications of these findings with regard to GH signaling and GHR down-regulation are discussed.