Résumé : We studied the effect of a single intravenous bolus of 0.5 μg/kg of growth hormone-releasing factor (GRF) on plasma GH. prolactin (PRL) and somatomedin C (SMC) in 12 short normal children and 24 patients with severe GH deficiency (GHD), i.e. GH <5 ng/ml after insulin and glucagon tolerance tests. GRF elicited an increase in plasma GH in both short normal and GHD children. The mean GH peak was lower in the GHD than in the short normal children (8.2 ± 2.5 vs. 39.2 ± 5.1 ng/ml, p < 0.001). In the GHD patients (but not in the short normals) there was a negative correlation between bone age and peak GH after GRF (r=–0.58, p < 0.005); GH peaks within the normal range were seen in 5 out of 8 GHD children with a bone age < 5 years. In the short normal children, GRF had no effect on plasma PRL. which decreased continuously between 8.30 and 11 a.m. (from 206 ± 22 to 86 ± 10 μU/ml, p < 0.005), a reflection of its circadian rhythm. In the majority of the GHD patients, PRL levels were higher than in the short normal children but had the same circadian rhythm, except that a slight increase in PRL was observed 15 min after GRF; this increase in PRL was seen both in children with isolated GHD and in those with multiple hormone deficiencies; it did occur in some GHD patients who had no GH response to GRF. Scrum SMC did not change 24 h after GRF in the short normal children. We conclude that; (1) in short normal children; (a) the mean GH response to a single intravenous bolus of 0.5 μg/kg of GRF is similar to that reported in young adults and (b) GRF has no effect on PRL secretion; (2) in GHD patients: (a) normal GH responses to GRF are seen in patients with a bone age < 5 years and establish the integrity of the somatotrophs in those cases; (b) the GH responsiveness to GRF decreases with age, which probably reflects the duration of endogenous GRF deficiency, and (c) although the PRL response to GRF is heterogeneous, it does in some patients provide additional evidence of responsive pituitary tissue. © 1985 S. Karger AG, Basel.