Abstract The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship of handgrip strength with basic anthropometric variables, hand anthropometric variables, total body and hand composition, total body and hand bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) in prepubertal children aged between 8 and 11 years ( n=64, 27 boys, 37 girls). Height and body mass were measured and body mass index (BMI kg/m 2) was calculated. Biceps and triceps skinfolds, arm relaxed, arm flexed, forearm and wrist girths, acromiale–radiale, radiale–stylion–radiale and midstylion–dactylion length and humerus breadth were measured. Specific hand anthropometric variables according to Visnapuu and Jürimäe [2007. Handgrip strength and hand dimensions in young handball and basketball players. J. Strength Cond. Res. 21, 923–929] were used. Five fingers’ spans, fingers’ lengths and perimeters of the hand were measured. Total body and right-hand fat percentage, fat mass and lean mass (LBM) were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Right-hand BMC and BMD were analysed from the bone variables. Maximal handgrip strength of the right hand was measured with the hand dynamometer. Stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that the most important predictive value from the basic anthropometric variables was body height, explaining 76.1% ( R 2×100), 40.7% and 50.6% of the handgrip strength in boys, girls and total group, respectively. Measured skinfold thicknesses and breadths were not related to handgrip strength in any group. Forearm girths significantly predicted handgrip strength in boys (30.8%), girls (43.4%) and total group (43.4%). As a rule, handgrip strength was more dependent on the anthropometric and body composition variables in boys than girls. It was concluded that body height, forearm girth, midstylion–dactylion and acromiale–radiale length and hand LBM and BMC are the most limiting factors influencing handgrip strength in prepubertal children.