Summary The incorporation of developmental control mechanisms of growth has proven to be a powerful tool in mapping quantitative trait loci (QTL) underlying growth trajectories. A theoretical framework for implementing a QTL mapping strategy with growth laws has been established. This framework can be generalized to an arbitrary number of time points, where growth is measured, and becomes computationally more tractable, when the assumption of variance stationarity is made. In practice, however, this assumption is likely to be violated for age-specific growth traits due to a scale effect. In this article, we present a new statistical model for mapping growth QTL, which also addresses the problem of variance stationarity, by using a transform-both-sides (TBS) model advocated by Carroll and Ruppert (1984, Journal of the American Statistical Association79, 321–328). The TBS-based model for mapping growth QTL cannot only maintain the original biological properties of a growth model, but also can increase the accuracy and precision of parameter estimation and the power to detect a QTL responsible for growth differentiation. Using the TBS-based model, we successfully map a QTL governing growth trajectories to a linkage group in an example of forest trees. The statistical and biological properties of the estimates of this growth QTL position and effect are investigated using Monte Carlo simulation studies. The implications of our model for understanding the genetic architecture of growth are discussed.