The effects of long-term administration of bovine growth hormone (GH) on pre-pubertal mammogenesis and subsequent milk production were examined in pasture-fed dairy heifers. Purified bovine GH (specific activity 0·78 i.u. per mg) was administered daily for 21 weeks (0·6 mg GH per kg M 0·75) to one member of each of 12 sets of twins from 3·5 (range 2·5 to 4-5) months of age. GH administration resulted in a significantly smaller mammary gland compared with control heifers at slaughter at the end of treatment (717 v. 839 g; P < 005 (no. = 4)) and increased the proportion of mammary fat pad containing parenchyma (461 v. 383 g/kg; P < 0·01). Mammary parenchymal dry, fat-free tissue was increased in the GH-treated group (25·8 v. 22·5 g; P < 0·05), and fat-pad adipose tissue was reduced (323 v. 435 g; P < 005), compared with the control group. Morphometric analysis of the mammary gland revealed an increase in the volume fraction of connective tissue (P < 0·1) and a tendency toward less fat in GH-treated heifers compared with control heifers. Estimates of the composition of the whole gland confirmed that GH treatment reduced total mammary fat (372 v. 496 g; P < 0·05). At calving, udder volume was greater in the heifers treated with GH compared with the untreated group (14·8 v. 11·2 1; P < 0·05 (no. = 4)). However, there were no differences in the mean daily yields of milk or milk components between groups.