BACKGROUND: Growth without GH has been reported in patients with organic combined pituitary hormone deficiency (CPHD) after resection of craniopharyngiomas and hypothalamic tumours or in septo-optic dysplasia. METHODS: This study describes the growth pattern and final height of five children (four boys, one girl) with idiopathic CPHD (GH, TSH, ACTH, LH and FSH) who maintained normal growth despite persistent GH deficiency throughout the growth period. RESULTS: Presenting findings were borderline small penis in two children diagnosed at ages 3 and 9 years, and absence of pubertal signs in three adolescents diagnosed at age 12.8-13.7 years. The latter three patients also exhibited acromegaloid features. The height of all patients was within the 10-25th percentiles, and weight at the 25-50th percentiles. Although they were moderately overweight, accelerated weight gain was not observed. Prepubertal growth rate was 4-5 cm/year. The pubertal growth period, starting after initiation of sex hormone therapy (chronological age 15.9-16.3 years and bone age 12.5-14.5 years) continued for 4-5.5 years. Total pubertal growth was 6-11.7 cm with reduced growth spurt. Final height, which was attained at an advanced age (19-22 years), was 170-179 cm in the boys and 164 cm in the girl, equal to or exceeding the target height range. Repeated hormonal evaluations revealed undetectable GH and IGF-I levels, and no evidence of hyperprolactinaemia or hyperinsulinism. CONCLUSIONS: Final height attainment within or above target height range may occur in patients with idiopathic CPHD despite persistent GHD. As this was not mediated by GH, IGF-I, insulin or prolactin, some other growth factors probably played a growth-promoting role.