Octreotide, a long-acting analog of somatostatin that inhibits insulin release, has the potential to control hypoglycemia in infants with congenital hyperinsulinism. To examine the efficacy and side effects of octreotide, we evaluated therapy between 1988 and 1993 in 16 infants who did not respond to diazoxide. In nine patients with onset of severe hypoglycemia in the first days of life, octreotide was helpful in stabilizing plasma glucose levels and allowed reductions in the rates of glucose infusion; however, glucose control was inadequate to avoid subtotal pancreatectomy. In two of these nine patients postoperatively and in seven other infants, a trial of long-term treatment with octreotide was undertaken. Four were treated successfully for up to 4.3 years. Octreotide therapy was not associated with thyroid deficiency and caused only transient malabsorption. All patients receiving long-term therapy had some decrease in linear growth and two had subnormal plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 compatible with suppression of growth hormone by octreotide. Resistance to octreotide therapy, even with increasing doses, occurred in all patients. These results suggest that octreotide may aid in the acute or long-term treatment of congenital hyperinsulinism in a limited number of selected cases.