Body composition exhibits marked variations across the early human lifetime. The precise physiological mechanisms that drive such developmental adaptations are difficult to establish. This clinical challenge reflects an array of potentially confounding factors, such as marked intersubject differences in tissue compartments; the incremental nature of longitudinal intrasubject variations in body composition; technical limitations in quantitating the unobserved mass of mineral, fat, water, and muscle ad seriatim; and the multifold contributions of genetic, dietary, environmental, hormonal, nutritional, and behavioral signals to physical and sexual maturation. From an endocrine perspective (reviewed here), gonadal sex steroids and GH/IGF-I constitute prime determinants of evolving body composition. The present critical review examines hormonal regulation of body composition in infancy, childhood, and puberty.