Abstract Background Fetal growth restriction is associated with significantly increased risks of neonatal death and morbidity and with susceptibility to hypertension, cardiovascular disease and NIDDM later in life. Human birth weight has a substantial genetic component, with at least a quarter of the variation attributable to additive genetic effects. Methods One hundred twenty-five subjects (83 control and 42 case) were selected using stringent inclusion/exclusion criteria. DNA sequencing was used to identify 26 single nucleotide polymorphisms in the pituitary growth hormone gene (GH1) at which all subjects were genotyped. Association with fetal growth restriction was tested by logistic regression for all sites with minor allele frequencies greater than 5%. Results Logistic regression identified significant association with fetal growth restriction of C alleles at sites -1 and +3 (relative to the start of transcription) that are in complete linkage disequilibrium. These alleles are present at higher frequency (6% vs. 0.4%) in fetal growth restricted subjects and are associated with an average reduction in birth weight of 152 g in normal birth weight and 97 g in low birth weight subjects. Conclusions There is suggestive association between fetal growth restriction and the presence of C alleles at sites -1 and +3 of the pituitary growth hormone gene.