Objective'To determine whether reduced growth velocity (GV) in extremely low birth weight infants is preceded by elevated inflammatory cytokines. Study Design'GV was determined at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age (PMA) in 768 infants 401 to 1,000 g birth weight (BW). Association between blood cytokines measured through day of life 21 and GV was explored using linear regression models that adjusted for late-onset sepsis (LOS), BW, small for gestational age (SGA), gender, race, energy intake, and center. Results'Serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) was increased at days 14 and 21 in LOS infants. LOS was associated with reduced energy intake and GV for weight (weight-GV) at 36 weeks' PMA. Linear regression analysis controlling for LOS and energy intake showed significant relationships between increased IL-6 at days 14 and 21 with reduced weight-GV at 36 weeks' PMA (p < 0.0001). The relationship between day 21 IL-6 and weight-GV was not associated with LOS (p = 0.12) when controlling for BW and energy intake. Both BW (p = 0.02) and energy intake (p = 0.003) influenced the relationship between day 14 IL-6 and weight-GV. Conclusion'IL-6 elevation during the first month of life is associated with lower weight-GV at 36 weeks' PMA and may have a direct effect upon energy balance and postnatal growth.