The efficacy and safety of recombinant human growth hormone (hGH) administration was studied in children with achondroplasia. Fifteen children with achondroplasia, seven boys (4.8-12.2 years of age) and 12 girls (5.7-2.2 years of age), were treated daily with hGH at a dosage of 1 IU/kg/week. Auxological assessments were performed 6 months before, at initiation of, and at 6, 12, and 24 months following initiation of growth hormone (GH) therapy. Before initiating GH therapy, hypothalamic-pituitary and thyroid functions were evaluated. Levels of serum insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF binding protein (BP)-3 (IGFBP-3) were assessed, as was GH response to provocative stimuli. GH responses in two stimulation tests were normal for all but three children. During the first semester of GH treatment, a significant increase in height velocity (HV), from 3.2 to 8.3 cm/year, was observed in all children. However, during the second semester, a relative decrease in growth rate was observed. By the end of the first year, HV had increased from 3.2 to 6.9 cm/year (mean, 3.7 cm/year; range, 1.1-8 cm/year) in 13 children and remained unchanged in two children. HV declined progressively during the next 12 months and, by the end of the second year of treatment, had increased in seven of the nine children who had completed 2 years of therapy (mean increase, 3.1 cm/year); two children did not respond to GH therapy, as shown by the lack of increase in HV. Sitting-height (SH) to standing-height ratio % (SH%) remained unchanged throughout GH therapy, and no significant change in skeletal maturation was observed. In conclusion, hGH treatment resulted in an increased growth rate in some children with achondroplasia; however, this increase waned during the second year of treatment. Children with the lowest pretreatment HVs seemed to benefit most from GH therapy. Nonetheless, the usefulness of GH treatment in achondroplasia will be known only when a study of final height is completed.