Physical development in Chinese school children was analysed based on a national survey in 1985. Close to half a million children and adolescents, aged 7-18, from Han ethnic group and 27 minority ethnic groups were assessed for height, weight, sitting-height, chest circumference, biacromial and biiliac diameters. Growth in Han children was greater than that in minority ethnic group children. The growth differences among minority ethnic groups were large. Growth in urban children was greater than that in rural children except in a few age groups of girls. A significant difference in children's growth was found between northern and southern divisions of China, it being greater in the north. The growth curves of physical characteristics demonstrated systematic regularity. Finally, the results of this study were compared with research reports from other world literature.