Cognitive functioning, especially memory performance, is known to be impaired in patients with childhood-onset growth hormone deficiency (CO-GHD), and growth hormone substitution has been found to counteract this memory impairment. Neuropsychological and functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI) data acquired during a working memory task in 13 childhood-onset GH-deficient patients were compared with 13 age, sex and education level matched healthy controls. Results demonstrated that there is no difference in the quality of the performance in the working memory task between GH-deficient patients and control subjects. However, memory speed was found to be subnormal in patients. Concerning mood, patients reported more complaints of fatigue, and less vigor. Imaging data showed that patients had increased activity in dorsolateral/ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, parietal cortex, supplementary motor and motor cortex, as well as in the thalamus and precuneus area. Increasing task load was also associated with an increase in brain activity in similar areas in patients compared to control subjects. In conclusion, this fMRI study shows that GH-deficient patients have a subnormal memory speed, but no impaired quality of memory performance, which may be due to compensatory recruitment of dorsal prefrontal brain regions. These findings indicate that the GH-IGF-1 axis contributes to prefrontal functioning in patients with CO-GHD. Copyright © 2005 S. Karger AG.