The flood-pulse concept (FPC) states that annual inundation is the principal force responsible for productivity and biotic interactions in river-floodplain systems. Somatic growth is one component of production, and we hypothesized that, if the FPC applies, growth of fishes that use the moving littoral zone should differ among years with differing flood pattern, whereas nonlittoral fishes would show no such response. Growth of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), species that exploit littoral resources, increased during a year having an unusual warm-season flood in the Upper Mississippi River system and was reduced during low-water years. Growth of white bass (Morone chrysops), which do not rely heavily on the littoral zone, did not differ significantly between the extreme-flood and low-water years. Patterns of growth of black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), which have intermediate dependence on the moving littoral zone, were somewhat ambiguous. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the FPC applies, at least under certain conditions, to this temperate river system. Our results can also provide an important basis from which to assess some costs and benefits of water level management strategies in large regulated temperate rivers.