BACKGROUND Growth velocity is one of the most important problems in low birth weight (LBW) neonates. AIMS The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of body massage with and without sunflower oil on the growth of LBW preterm neonates in Iran. STUDY DESIGN A single-blinded randomized clinical trial SUBJECTS This study examined neonates admitted to NICU with gestational age of 33-37 weeks and birth weight of 1500-1999 g, without birth asphyxia and medically stable OUTCOME MEASURES Neonates were randomly assigned to two groups to receive moderate pressure massage alone or the same massage with sunflower oil by their mothers, three times a day for 14 consecutive days. The primary variables were increases in mean of growth parameters (weight, height and head circumference) that were evaluated 14 days after intervention, at ages 1 and 2 months. Secondary variables were clinical side effects. RESULTS Fifty-four neonates including 25 girls and 29 boys with mean gestational age of 35.3 ± 1.26 weeks were evaluated. Means of gestational age, birth weight and length of NICU stay were not different in both groups. In the oil massage group, mean weight at ages 1 month (mean ± SD: 2339 ± 135 vs. 2201 ± 93 g, P = 0.04) and 2 months (mean ± SD: 3301 ± 237 vs. 3005 ± 305 g, P = 0.005) was significantly greater than that of the body massage group. No adverse events were seen in the two groups. CONCLUSION Sunflower oil massage might be used as an effective and safe intervention for weight gain in LBW preterm neonates.