A study was undertaken of a unique sample of 63 wild vervet monkeys Cercopithecus aethiops from a single population in Uganda collected over 35 days in 1947. Twenty-five were immature (12 females and 13 males) and 38 were adults (16 females and 22 males). Body mass, external measurements, masticatory and other masses were recorded for each individual at the time of collection, and for a few specimens, the development of the reproductive organs. Each individual was evaluated for cranial capacity, limb length and dental eruption. The comparison of immature and adult animals illustrates the mosaic nature of growth in the different body systems, as well as female–male differences. An ancestral model is proposed for catarrhine growth and development, with particular reference to sex differences. This model provides a framework for assessment of immatures and for the reconstruction of socio-ecological effects on life-history stages in populations of fossil monkeys, apes and early hominids.