This study was planned to investigate the relationship between birth weight and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), and leptin levels in neonates with normal growth (appropriate for gestational age: AGA) and retarded growth (small for gestational age: SGA); and to evaluate these growth factors' effects in early postnatal growth. All newborns were full-term: gestational age 3,841 weeks. Of 50 neonates, 25 were SGA. IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and leptin levels were measured in maternal serum and venous cord blood at birth and at 15 days of life of neonates using specific RIAs. Maternal serum leptin concentrations were significantly higher than cord blood leptin concentrations (p < 0.001). Maternal serum IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and leptin levels did not show correlations with birth weight. In contrast, there were significantly positive correlations between birth weight and venous cord blood IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and leptin levels (p < 0.001). In the SGA group, the newborns with a slow postnatal growth pattern had lower umbilical cord serum IGF-I levels compared with newborns with a normal growth pattern. A similar result was also found in the AGA group. Similar results were not found for serum leptin and IGFBP-3. In conclusion, cord blood IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and leptin levels play an important role in the regulation of fetal and neonatal growth. It is likely that IGF-I has a more important role than the other factors in early postnatal growth.