This study was retrospectively performed in 574 short normal children and adolescents [328 underwent insulin tolerance test (ITT), 34 clonidine test (CLON), 64 arginine test (ARG), 19 GHRH test, 52 ITT+CLON, 30 GHRH+CLON, and 47 ITT+CLON+GHRH) in order to evaluate the effect of pubertal stage on GH response to different tests and to identify the most likely mechanism of action of different stimuli. GH peak was higher during GHRH than in all other tests. Sex or start of pubertal development did not cause any GH peak difference. Low-responder (GH peak less than 10 ng/ml) percentages were similar (ITT = 13.5%, CLON = 13.4%, ARG = 13.2%, GHRH = 10.6%) also when the subjects were divided according to sex and pubertal development. ITT+CLON showed discordant results in 42/99 subjects (30/42 = 71.4% were low-responders to ITT and 12/42 = 28.6% to CLON). GH peak appeared earlier during GHRH (85% less than 45 min) and later during CLON (78%: 60-120 min) than during all other tests; GH peak during ITT showed a wide variability of time. Negative correlations were found between GH peak during GHRH and chronological age, height and bone age and during CLON and chronological age. In conclusion our data show that these tests have similar GH secretagogue reliability.