The proteolytic enzyme, papain, was given systematically to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of inhibition of endochondral bone formation on pelvic growth, with emphasis on the innominate bone. Ninety-eight Lewis-strain male rats, used concurrently for craniofacial growth studies, were divided into two groups. Thirty rats from Group I (n = 48) received 2% crude papain i.p. daily from 25–40 days-of-age and were euthanized at 40, 54, and 70 days-of-age. Thirty-five rats from Group II (n = 50) were given papain at the same dose from 25–70 days-of-age and were euthanized at 26, 40, 54, 70, and 120 days. The remaining animals in both groups were the controls. Standardized dorsoventral pelvic radiographs were taken of all 98 animals. Ten linear dimensions were measured on each and the data evaluated statistically. A reduction both in size and rate of growth of the bony pelvis was found. All the anteroposterior and most of the transverse pelvic dimensions were significantly shorter, to a greater extent in the prolonged papain group. Bi-ischial width was increased, perhaps to compensate for pelvic shortening and to accommodate the pelvic contents. The findings may contribute to our better understanding of abnormal endochondral bone growth in the pelvis. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.