Growth hormone receptor (GHR) and prolactin receptor (PRLR) in jawed vertebrates were thought to arise after the divergence of gnathostomes from a basal vertebrate. In this study we have identified two genes encoding putative GHR and PRLR in sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) and Arctic lamprey (Lethenteron camtschaticum), extant members of one of the oldest vertebrate groups, agnathans. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that lamprey GHR and PRLR cluster at the base of gnathostome GHR and PRLR clades, respectively. This indicates that distinct GHR and PRLR arose prior to the emergence of the lamprey branch of agnathans. In the sea lamprey, GHR and PRLR displayed a differential but overlapping pattern of expression; GHR had high expression in liver and heart tissues, whereas PRLR was expressed highly in the brain and moderately in osmoregulatory tissues. Branchial PRLR mRNA levels were significantly elevated by stage 5 of metamorphosis and remained elevated through stage 7, whereas levels of GHR mRNA were only elevated in the final stage (7). Branchial expression of GHR increased following seawater (SW) exposure of juveniles, but expression of PRLR was not significantly altered. The results indicate that GHR and PRLR may both participate in metamorphosis and that GHR may mediate SW acclimation.