In a longitudinal study of 25 preterm infants, we have examined the relationship of bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (ALP), C-terminal propeptide of type I collagen (PICP), N-terminal propeptide of type III procollagen (P3NP), C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen, urinary pyridinoline (Pyd) and deoxypyridinoline (Dpd), with rates of gain in weight, length, and lower leg length and with bone mineral content (BMC), all measured at weekly intervals over the first 10 wk of life. Concentrations of all collagen markers were 10-fold higher than in older children. Each marker showed a distinctive pattern of postnatal change, with early increases in PICP and P3NP and decreases in ICTP reflecting postnatal growth. Once markers had reached a plateau during weeks 4-10, P3NP was positively correlated, whereas Pyd and Dpd were negatively correlated with rate of weight gain (r = +0.44, -0.46, and -0.40, respectively, p < 0.05). P3NP was also positively correlated with overall linear growth (r = +0.44, p < 0.05). PICP was strongly correlated with mean BMC (r = +0.63,p < 0.01) and with total BMC attained by the end of the study period (r = +0.81, p < 0.001). Bone ALP was positively correlated with the rate of bone mineral accretion (r = +0.55, p = 0.01). We conclude that the marker of soft-tissue collagen formation, P3NP, is a good marker for overall ponderal and linear growth in preterm infants, whereas the markers of collagen breakdown, Pyd and Dpd, have inverse relationships with weight gain. The osteoblast markers, PICP and bone ALP, seem to be good surrogate markers for bone mineralization in preterm infants. Markers may provide information on whole-body turnover of bone and collagen that is complementary to traditional physical measures of growth and bone mineralization.