Whilst it is assumed that body growth is retarded in children with steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome (NS), the degree of growth failure and the pathomechanisms involved are poorly understood. We collected serial growth data in 45 children (24 males) with steroid-resistant NS usually from onset to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) during childhood (n=10) or until final height was attained (n=27). Mean follow-up time was 9 (2-19) years. Mean initial standardized height was -0.3+/-1.2 standard deviation scores (SDS). Mean final height was +0.4 SDS in males and -1.0 SDS in females (sex difference not significant). In 16 patients with serum creatinine levels consistently <1.2 mg/dl, mean final height SDS was 0.3 SDS higher than that obtained within 6 months of onset. In contrast, 9 children who entered ESRD lost an average of 1.3 SDS from the initial record to ESRD (P=0.017). In prepubertal patients without renal insufficiency, mean height SDS decreased during corticosteroid treatment by 0.3 SDS, followed by a partial catch-up after discontinuation of treatment; the change from initial to final height SDS was inversely correlated with the total prednisone dose given (r=-0.50, P=0.03). In 16 prepubertal children with serial height and serum protein measurements who were off steroids and maintained normal creatinine levels, mean individual albumin concentrations correlated with the change in height SDS per year (r=0.65, P=0.0006) and in boys with final height (r=0.73, P=0.03). In conclusion, growth in steroid-resistant NS depends on the preservation of renal function, the cumulative dose of steroids applied, and the severity of hypoproteinemia.