Poor growth in association with child abuse is well recognised, but the eventual outcome with respect to growth has not been clearly defined. In a study of 95 children who had suffered child abuse standard deviation (SD) scores for height and weight were significantly below the mean at presentation and improved at follow up. Sixty four children who remained at home showed significant increase in height SD scores only (p less than 0.01). Twenty children were either taken into long term fostercare or adopted and showed significant increases in height and weight SD scores (p less than 0.001 and p less than 0.01, respectively). The remaining 11 children, who were fostered for short periods only, showed little change in either index. Catch up growth for height defined as a change in SD scores of one or more occurred in seven (11%) of the children at home compared with 11 (55%) of those taken into long term fostercare (p less than 0.001). Catch up growth for weight occurred in 14 (22%) of those at home and 10 (50%) of those in long term fostercare (p less than 0.01). Children suffering child abuse show greater catch up growth when taken into long term fostercare. Growth patterns should be used to decided where these children are placed.