Coeliac disease in children is frequently associated with a slow growth rate. This observation may be linked to the malabsorption that occurs in these patients; however, the underlying mechanism remains unknown. To better understand this phenomenon, we have studied the growth patterns of 153 patients with coeliac disease for 2-9 years. Gastro-intestinal biopsies were performed before and after gluten exclusion. In a second group of 79 children, somatostatin levels and binding properties in the plasma and jejunal mucosa were measured. In a third group of 40 patients we measured insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and IGF-binding protein 3 (IGF-BP3) levels. We found that in children diagnosed before 2 years of age weight was the most affected growth parameter. In children diagnosed after this age, height was more affected. Suppression of gluten intake induced an acceleration of growth velocity. Although plasma levels of somatostatin were not significantly altered, somatostatin concentrations in the jejunal mucosa of patients in the active phase of the disease were significantly elevated (p < 0.05). Children with coeliac disease exhibited significantly lower levels of IGF-BP3 when compared to patients with normal stature and growth velocities. In contrast, these patients showed an increase in IGF-BP3 levels after gluten exclusion from the diet.