Transport proteins, acute-phase reactant proteins (APRP), hematology, and anthropometry were studied in 34 sickle cell disease (SCD) children (20 boys, 14 girls) and 27 controls without growth deficits (13 boys, 14 girls) [corrected]. The age range was 1/2 to 16 1/2 years. Weight deficits (< 80%) by Waterlow's classification were observed in 41% of SCD boys and 25% of SCD girls, and height deficits (< 90%) were observed in 25% SCD boys and 25% girls. Mean white blood cell counts were significantly higher (P < .001) and hematocrit and hemoglobin (Hb) lower (P < .005) in SCD children than in controls. Although both groups had similar mean levels of albumin, transferrin, and APRP, SCD children had significantly lower mean levels of retinol-binding protein (RBP) (P < .001) and retinol-prealbumin (P < .001). Retinol-binding protein levels were abnormal in 18 (53%) SCD children and in only 23% controls (chi 2 = 14.06; P < 0.005); transferrin levels were abnormal in 20% of SCD children and in none of the controls. Children with SC and SF Hb phenotype had normal mean levels of RBP, whereas those with S beta thal and SS phenotype had levels below normal. Growth-retarded children by weight and height had reduced mean levels of RBP and prealbumin compared with growth-normal SCD children. The implication of primary protein-energy malnutrition on growth retardation in SCD children is under study.