The aim of this study was to compare accurately measured growth over 12 months in asthmatic children treated with either fluticasone propionate (FP) 50 micrograms twice daily (b.i.d.) or sodium cromoglycate (SCG) 20 mg four times daily (q.i.d.). After a 2-week run-in, asthmatic children aged 4-10 years from 15 UK centers were randomized in a 3:4 ratio to open-label FP (n = 52) or SCG (n = 70). After 8 weeks, those whose asthma was not adequately controlled were switched from SCG to FP or withdrawn. Standing height was measured (Holtain stadiometry) at baseline, after 8 weeks and at 6 weeks intervals thereafter for 1 year. Morning peak flows (PEFam) were recorded by patients for 2 weeks during baseline, and 1 week before each visit during treatment. Urinary free cortisol (24 h) was measured at baseline, 6 months, and 1 year. After 8 weeks, 22 patients were withdrawn from SCG group (and were switched to FP), and five patients were withdrawn from the FP group due to poor asthma control. A further 21 and 11 patients were withdrawn from the SCG and FP groups, respectively, during the course of the study. There were no significant differences between patients who received FP and SCG for 1 year (n = 34 and n = 26, respectively) in terms of height velocity adjusted for age and gender (HV), or height velocity standard deviation scores adjusted for gender (HVSDS). Mean HV (mean HVSDS) were 6.0 cm/yr (0.1) and 6.5 cm/yr (0.5) for FP and SCG, respectively. There were no treatment differences in mean 24 h urinary free cortisol levels at 6 and 12 months. Mean % predicted PEFam improved over 1 year in both groups but to a greater degree in the FP group. We concluded that growth was normal in mildly asthmatic children receiving FP (50 micrograms bid) for 1 year. There were fewer withdrawals and lung function improved to a greater extent in FP treated patients than in patients receiving SCG.