This study reports the results of a 2-yr clinical trial with GH in 95 short prepubertal children with non-GH-deficient intrauterine growth retardation. This randomized, double blind, controlled study compared the effects of placebo (restricted to the first 6 months) and two doses of GH (0.4 and 1.2 IU/kg.week) given sc 6 days/week for 2 yr. A significant GH dose-dependent growth acceleration was observed. Mean height gain (SDS/CA) was 0.66 +/- 0.07 in group I (low dose, 0.4 IU/kg.week) compared to 1.25 +/- 0.07 in group II (high dose, 1.2 IU/kg.week). Mean bone maturation progression (expressed in months) was 26.2 +/- 1.7 and 30.2 +/- 1.5 over 24 months in groups I and II, respectively. Onset of puberty was observed in some patients of both groups. Whether chronic use of a high GH dose will advance the onset of puberty remains to be established. A great variability of growth acceleration was seen among GH dose groups, suggesting that factors in addition to GH dose might modulate individual responses to treatment. In conclusion, it is suggested that in these patients, dose-dependent catch-up growth could be induced by GH treatment.