31 prepubertal children with short stature [mean height standard deviation score (SDS) -2.84] and low birth weight (mean -2.82 SDS) were studied. Mean age was 6.0 years and mean height velocity SDS was -0.76. Patients were classified as having either the clinical characteristics of Russell-Silver syndrome (RSS) (4 F, 13 M) or not (4 F, 10 M). All children had an overnight profile of spontaneous growth hormone (GH) secretion. 4 children achieved a maximum GH concentration of less than 20 mU/l. 9 children with RSS secreted only one large GH peak during the night. Most of the non-RSS group had normal GH pulse frequency but 3 boys had a fast-frequency pattern. Abnormal GH secretion may contribute towards growth failure in children with low birth weight/RSS.