To evaluate the developmental and sex-specific changes in spontaneous GH secretion in terms of both secretory rate and pulsatile pattern, we investigated 24-h GH profiles (integrated 20-min samples) in 208 healthy children (91 girls and 117 boys) of normal heights at all stages of puberty. The plasma GH concentrations were transformed to GH secretion rates by means of a deconvolution technique. In prepubertal boys and girls, the mean secretion rates were comparable (0.66 and 0.68 U/24 h), but increased during puberty differently: earlier in girls, already at stage 2, with the highest rates at stages 3 and 4 (1.70 and 1.96 U/24 h); later in boys, at stage 4 (1.66 U/24 h). In both sexes the GH secretion rate decreased to prepubertal values at stage 5. The GH secretion rate correlated negatively with weight for height expressed in SD scores only in puberty (boys, r = -0.44, P < 0.001; girls, r = -0.22; P < 0.05). The number of peaks with high amplitudes increased with the progress of puberty in both boys (stage 2) and girls (stages 3 and 4). In both prepubertal girls and boys, a marked day-night rhythm was observed, which disappeared in midpuberty in boys owing to a greater increase in peak amplitudes during the day than at night. The mean number of peaks per 24 h was unchanged in girls, but decreased in late pubertal boys. In summary, we found a sex-specific increase in the GH secretion rate during pubertal development that occurs at an earlier pubertal stage and is more pronounced in girls than in boys. There are underlying changes in the mean GH amplitudes in both boys and girls as well as an increased baseline secretion in girls. In puberty, body composition modulates the GH secretion rate in both sexes.