Short stature has been associated with various degrees of abnormal glucose tolerance in middle-aged people, where the effects of age and metabolic control would be difficult to exclude. We chose to examine body stature in women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a prediabetic state affecting a young group of people. A sample of 2772 Greek pregnant women, referred for GDM screening was examined. After a 100-g oral glucose tolerance test, 1787 women were classified as normal (N), 300 women were found with one abnormal glucose value (OAV) and 685 women with GDM. Basal insulin resistance was calculated in 640 women by homeostasis model assessment. In addition, 51 pregnant women with pre-existing Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and 109 with pre-existing Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus were included in the study. There was a gradual decrease in mean height (cm) as glucose intolerance became more severe: N: 161.0 +/- 6.2, OAV:160.2 +/- 6.1, GDM:158.7 +/- 6.3, Type II diabetes 158.2 +/- 7.0 (p < 0.001, analysis of variance]. Height in Type I diabetes (160.1 +/- 5.9) did not differ from the normal group. The difference in height between the normal and GDM groups remained (p < 0.001) when body weight, age, birth before or after 1960 and educational status were also taken into account. An independent correlation was also found between height and insulin resistance (n = 640) adjusted for the above mentioned variables. In conclusion, short stature appears to be associated with glucose intolerance as an independent variable, even when this intolerance is both mild and temporary. The previously unrecognised independent association of stature with basal insulin resistance merits further investigation.