Growth hormone is assumed to be involved in the development of diabetic retinopathy. In a randomized study we evaluated the possible effects of one year treatment with a somatostatin (SRIH) analogue, octreotide, on early retinopathy and on metabolism in Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. Eleven patients were allocated to treatment with a continuous sc infusion of 400 micrograms octreotide per day and 9 served as controls. Only 7 patients from each group completed the study. Three octreotide-treated patients left the study owing to severe diarrhea. The subjects were evaluated at entry, after 2, 6 and 12 months treatment, and 2 months after withdrawal. Octreotide induced a decrease in GH secretion, expressed as the area under the 24 h serum GH profiles (p less than 0.05), and of the serum levels of IGF-I (p less than 0.05). The entire decline in GH levels occurred during the daytime, whereas the nocturnal levels were unaffected. Retinopathy, as assessed by determination of the blood retina barrier permeability, by colour fundus photography, and flurescein angiography was unchanged in both groups. Apart from a decline in insulin requirements, octreotide had no major effect on glycemic control, but induced a mild transient pituitary hypothyroidism, not clinically relevant. We conclude that treatment with octreotide for one year has modest effects on GH, IGF-I, and glucose metabolism, but has no significant effect on early retinopathy in Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes.