The influence of short stature on psychological adaptation in childhood and adolescence is controversial. GH is currently used to treat children with idiopathic short stature (ISS, also known as non-GH-deficient short stature). This study represents the first double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the effects of GH on the psychological adaptation of children and adolescents with ISS, treated with GH until adult height was attained.Sixty-eight children (53 males, 15 females), 9-16 yr old, with marked ISS (measured height or predicted adult height -2.5 sd or less) received either GH 0.074 mg/kg or placebo sc three times per week until height velocity decreased to less than 1.5 cm/yr. Parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and children the Self-Perception Profile (SPP) and Silhouette Apperception Technique at baseline and annually thereafter. Baseline behavioral/emotional adjustment (CBCL) and self-concept (SPP) scores for children with ISS were within the normative range. The two study groups exhibited similar behavioral and self-concept profiles (CBCL) during the first 2 yr of the study. However, CBCL behavior problems (internalizing, externalizing, and total problems) appeared to decline, in yr 3 and 4, in the GH-treated group relative to the placebo-treated group. Group differences in CBCL competency domains and the SPP were not observed at any point during the study. Short stature among children with ISS enrolled in this long-term, placebo-controlled study was not associated with problems in psychological adaptation or self-concept with the psychological instruments employed. GH treatment was associated with a trend toward improvement in problem behaviors, as measured by questionnaires (CBCL) completed by study participants' parents. It remains to be determined whether GH treatment significantly impacts adaptation, psychosocial function, or quality of life in children with ISS.