High-density conditions often result in some individuals becoming stunted, when their growth and development are halted. When conditions improve such individuals may be capable of restarting these processes (recovery growth). Stage-specific recovery growth rates were studied in stunted larvae of <em>Rana temporaria</em> which were removed from high density laboratory cultures, reared individually and fed adequately. Tadpoles originated from two montane populations in southern Poland (Babia Gora range and the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane). During 14 days of rapid growth, the Babia Gora larvae fed at high-food level gained on average 167% of body mass; at lower food level the larvae which started recovery growth at Gosner's stages 34-35 had significantly lower daily relative growth rates than the larvae which started at earlier developmental stages (Gosner's 30-32). The Tatra Mountains larvae showed similar pattern: during the 4-day feeding period, larvae gained 44% of body mass, but individuals which were at the beginning at stage 37 grew at the rate 17% lower than those at stages 32-35. In a separate experiment on <em>Rana sylvatica</em> tadpoles from New England, U.S., the initially stunted larvae increased, on average, almost 6-fold in body mass during two weeks of intense growth following the removal from high density cultures. Developmental arrest preserves the potential of the stunted <em>Rana</em> larvae for very fast growth, allowing them to capitalize on transient improvement of living conditions. However, there is a steady decline in the potential for such growth spurt with increasing advancement of ontogenetic development.