Due to their lack of reproducibility, it is unlikely that GH stimulation tests can provide reliable diagnostic information to distinguish partial isolated GH deficiency (GHD) from idiopathic short stature (ISS). We hypothesized that the classical distinction between these groups, essentially based on stimulatory GH peaks, is artificial and that, as a consequence, the average response to GH treatment will not be different between them. The hypothesized lack of prognostic validity of stimulatory GH peaks was studied in 435 prepubertal children with nonorganic growth retardation. Children were categorized as ‘severe GHD’, ‘partial GHD’ or ‘ISS’, if the maximum rise in their serum GH during two GH stimulation tests was 0– 10 mU/l, 10–20 mU/l, or >20 mU/l, respectively. Children with ‘partial GHD’ had short-term (1- and 2-year) and long-term (till final adult height) growth responses similar to those of children with ISS, significantly lower than the response seen in children with ‘severe GHD’. In children with stimulatory GH peaks >10 mU/l, including those currently considered partially GH deficient, the maximum GH peak was not a significant determinant of growth response in the short or the long term. In conclusion, ‘partial GHD’ is ill defined and cannot be distinguished from ISS based on the currently applied auxological or GH stimulation test criteria alone. More research is required for better identification of (all) children who will respond to GH treatment, whether or not GH deficient.