The aims of this study were to determine whether the activator and activator headgear encourage mandibular growth, and whether there is any superiority of one appliance over the other or if the resultant changes are due to normal growth. Forty-nine skeletal Class II division 1 patients were selected. Thirty-three (13 females, 20 males; mean age 12.52 +/- 1.42 years) were treated with an Andresen activator and the remaining 16 (7 females, 9 males; mean age 13.04 +/- 1.47 years) with an activator headgear combination. Twenty Class II subjects (9 females, 11 males; mean age 12.57 +/- 1.11 years) who had previously refused treatment served as a control group. Cephalometric landmarks were marked and digitized by one author to avoid inter-observer variability. Nine angular and 12 linear measurements were established and measured using Vistadent AT software. A paired-sample t-test and an ANOVA test were used to statistically evaluate the findings. The results revealed that both the activator and the activator headgear combination significantly (P < 0.001) encouraged mandibular growth, but had little restraining effect on the maxilla. The mandibular incisors were more controlled in the activator headgear combination group. The resultant skeletal, dentoalveolar and soft tissue changes differed significantly from those due to growth.