Time patterns in nocturnal concentrations of circulating melatonin of children are quantified in 8 girls and 8 boys, 8.7-16.8 yr of age, classified by Tanner pubertal stage. Between 1900 and 0700 h, each provided blood samples at 30-min intervals for melatonin RIA. Associations with gender, body mass index, and chronological and pubertal age determined by multiple linear regression and ANOVA reveal that the area under the curve of 12-h melatonin concentrations was affected by pubertal rather than chronological age, an effect to which data collected during darkness contributed the most. Each data series was also analyzed by a least squares spectrum at frequencies of 1-20 cycles/day. Ultradian changes with periods of 3.4 and 1.5 h, putatively associated with rapid eye movement sleep cycles, characterize nocturnal melatonin in boys and girls.