The relationship between diet and attained height was studied in children and adolescents in Southern California. Diet pattern was determined from an extensive food frequency questionnaire in 1765 Caucasian children of 7-18 years, attending state schools (452 m and 443 f) and Seventh-day Adventist schools (427 m and 443 f). The major difference in diet pattern between state and Adventist school children was in meat consumption. The Adventist children were split evenly between three categories of frequency in meat consumption (less than 1/week, 1/week-less than 1/d, and greater than or equal to 1/d), while 92 percent of state school children consumed meat daily. Vegetarians (those consuming meat less than 1/week) differed significantly in the consumption of other major food groups, such as fruit and vegetables. All school and diet subgroups were at or above the 50th percentile of the National Center for Health Statistics. Age-adjusted regression analysis showed that on average Adventist vegetarian children were taller than their meat-consuming classmates (2.5 and 2.0 cm for boys and girls, respectively). These results did not change materially when adjusting for other food groups. Nor did adjustment for parental height and socioeconomic factors in a sub-sample of 518 children. The results indicate that vegetarian children and adolescents on a balanced diet grow at least as tall as children who consume meat.