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Stature of conscripts from four regions of southern Portugal was evaluated in a secular perspective. Data were drawn from the draft records for each decade between 1930 and 1980, a period that corresponds to a decisive expansion of industry and urbanization. In each region conscripts were divided into two groups according to their area of birth: urban or rural. A secular shift was apparent in every region, affecting conscripts of both urban and rural extraction. However, gains in stature were greater in the littoral than in the hinterland regions, where agriculture still employs a large percentage of the population. In each region the urban conscripts experienced greater secular gains than their rural counterparts. The secular shift was more pronounced among the short-stature segments of the populations; percentages of conscripts below a height of 160.0 cm dropped in a striking manner throughout the period under investigation. Despite the paucity of reliable information on the anthropometric and biodemographic characteristics of the Portuguese population, the secular gains were found to be associated with infant mortality and total death rate in the four regions. Compared to other Western European populations, the secular growth of the Portuguese proceeds at a slower pace, even when comparisons are made within the group of Latin countries that share a common linguistic and cultural heritage in addition to the shortest statures in Europe.