Expressive language skills were assessed in two groups of prelingually-deafened children using the Reynell Developmental Language Scales (RDLS). Results from a group of 89 unimplanted subjects provided cross-sectional data which suggested that profoundly deaf children without implants, on average, could only be expected to make 5 months of expressive language growth in one year. Twenty-three children who received cochlear implants made up the second group of subjects and were administered the RDLS at three intervals: preimplant, 6-, and 12-months postimplant. The scores obtained at the post-implant intervals were then compared to scores that would be predicted on the basis of maturation alone, without the implant (these predictions were formulated based on the data obtained from the unimplanted subjects). At the 12-month postimplant interval, the observed mean language score was significantly higher than the predicted score. Although the mean group data were extremely encouraging, wide inter- subject variability was observed. Although the implant subjects, as a group, were substantially delayed compared with their normal hearing peers, their rate of language growth was found to match that of hearing peers, following implantation. Thus, the gap between chronological age and language age, which normally widens over time in deaf children, remained constant. Preliminary analyses over the first 2.5 years post-implant are consistent with this trend. These results suggest that early implantation (before age 3) might be beneficial to profoundly deaf children because the language delays at the time of implantation would be much smaller.