Although diet and nutrition are an integral part of the management of individuals with chronic renal failure (CRF), little has been written on the effect of nutrition on the growth response to growth hormone (GH) in CRF. We studied the GH axis end nutritional status of 31 prepubertal children aged 8.7 ± 0.5 years with a height standard deviation score (SDS) of -3.2 ± 0.2 (mean ± SEM) with CRF. Sixteen CRF patients on hemodialysis and 15 on peritoneal dialysis were studied. Forty-four age-matched normal short children without GH deficiency served as controls. Spontaneous 12-hour GH and stimulated GH values were significantly higher and GH binding protein (GHBP) was significantly lower in the CRF patients than in the normal short children. Both before the initiation of GH therapy and after the first year of treatment, the growth velocity (SDS) was inversely correlated with dietary protein intake and positively correlated with caloric intake. GH was administered at a dosage of 28 and 21 IU/m2/wk to the CRF group and the normal short children, respectively, divided into seven daily doses. The growth response of the normal short children was significantly greater than that of the CRF patients. GH therapy induced a smaller increment in GHBP and IGF-I in the CRF patients versus the normal short children (8.8 ± 2.2 and 10.2 ± 2.7 v 24.8 ± 1.3 and 27.6 ± 2.5 nmol/L, respectively, P < .01). The 1-year growth velocity of the CRF children was most closely correlated with dietary protein and caloric intake. The nutritional status of CRF patients is concluded to be a major factor in growth both before and during GH therapy.