This study was undertaken to characterize the serum levels of GH- binding protein (GHBP) before and during GH treatment in prepubertal short children born small for gestational age (SGA) and their relationship with growth parameters. Sixty-seven prepubertal short children (49 boys and 18 girls; height SD score, -5.4 to -2.0; age, 2.0-12.8 yr) born SGA, 8 of whom (6 boys and 2 girls) had signs of Silver-Russell syndrome, participated in the study. Total GHBP was measured by a ligand-mediated immunofunctional assay. The mean (SD) change in height SD score during the year before the start of GH treatment (0.1 IU/kg.day) was 0.11 (0.20) SD score, and this value increased to a 0.84 (0.43) SD score during the first year (P < 0.001) and to a 1.27 (0.63) SD score during the 2-yr period of therapy (P < 0.001). The baseline GHBP values ranged from 49-392 pmol/L, and no relationships were found among sex, chronological age, and maximal GH response to an arginine- insulin tolerance test. A positive correlation between GHBP and body composition, expressed as weight for height SD score, was found in the whole group (r = 0.28; P < 0.05) and in boys (r = 0.44; P < 0.01). No relationship was found between GHBP and spontaneous 24-h GH secretion, in terms of either GH secretion rate or pulsatile pattern, whereas GHBP was positively correlated with insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) SD score (r = 0.28; P < 0.05) and IGF-binding protein-3 SD score (r = 0.39; P < 0.01). Using a multiple stepwise linear regression analysis, the model using the IGF- binding protein-3 so score and the weight for height SD score at the start of GH therapy accounted for 33% of the variance in the baseline GHBP values. A mean increase of 27 (51)% in GHBP levels was found after 1 yr of therapy. However, a high degree of variability in the response of individuals to GH treatment in terms of GHBP levels was observed: in some children GHBP levels increased, whereas in others they decreased. In conclusion, GHBP levels in short prepubertal children born SGA were mostly within the normal range previously reported and correlated directly with body composition. An increase in GHBP levels was observed during GH treatment in some SGA children. No correlation was found between pretreatment GHBP levels and growth response to GH treatment.