Limitless supplies of recombinant human growth hormone (GH) have been available for the last 20 years. During that period, studies have characterised the effects of GH deficiency in adults and the benefits of GH replacement therapy. Areas of greatest impairment and benefit are quality of life, skeletal health and cardiovascular risk factors including the serum lipid profile and body composition. By optimising GH replacement therapy at various stages of adult life, it is hoped that it will prevent the development of osteoporosis and reduce the mortality and morbidity associated with hypopituitarism. However, the primary indication for GH therapy in adults in England and Wales is quality of life. The benefits of GH treatment are sustained over several years, and long-term surveillance of patients continues.