Air pollution, harvesting practices, and natural disturbances can affect the growth of trees and forest development. To make predictions about anthropogenic impacts on forests, we need to understand how these factors affect tree growth. In this study the effect of disturbance history on tree growth and stand structure was examined by using a computer model of forest development. The model was run under the climatic conditions of east Tennessee, USA, and the results compared to stand structure and tree growth data from a yellow poplar-white oak forest. Basal area growth and forest biomass were more accurately projected when rough approximations of the thinning and fire history typical of the measured plots were included in the simulation model. Stand history can influence tree growth rates and forest structure and should be included in any attempt to assess forest impacts.