Very preterm infants developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia frequently show a compromised growth in the neonatal period especially when steroids are given to facilitate weaning from the ventilator. The aim of this study was to evaluate the short-term effect of dexamethasone (DEXA) on the GH-IGF axis in ventilated very preterm infants developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia. We studied 10 very preterm artificially ventilated infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia [median (range) gestational age 27.5 wk (25.9-32.0 wk), median (range) birth weight 970 g (610-2150 g)] immediately before and 2 d after the start of DEXA treatment. On both days of study, serum GH profiles were obtained, and serum IGF-I and IGF binding protein (IGFBP) -1 and -3 levels were measured. The ventilation score and the nutritional intake were calculated. Before the start of DEXA treatment, the median serum mean GH level was 12.0 microg/L (6-28.4 microg/L), whereas 2 d after the start of DEXA treatment the median serum mean GH level declined significantly to a value of 4.4 microg/L (1.7-11.9 microg/L). During DEXA treatment, mean, baseline, and maximal GH levels (Pulsar analysis) were significantly lower compared with pretreatment levels (p < 0.01, p < 0.01, and p < 0.05, respectively). Serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 levels did not decline during DEXA. Serum IGFBP-1 levels were significantly lower compared with pretreatment levels (p < 0.01). Serum GH levels during DEXA treatment were correlated with neither the time interval between the administration of DEXA and the second GH profile nor the cumulative DEXA dose administered. Ventilation score and nutritional intake did not significantly correlate with serum GH, IGF-I, or IGFBP-1 or -3 levels, either before or after the start of DEXA. Two days of DEXA treatment in very preterm ventilated infants has a suppressive effect on serum GH levels, without an acute decline in serum IGF-I levels. A concomitant decrease in serum IGFBP-1 levels was found.