<p></p><p>ABSTRACT Objective: To determine if the treatment of stunted children offered at a specialized center influences their cognitive performance. Methods: Two groups of children from vulnerable families were selected, one consisting of stunted children being treated at the Nutrition Education and Recovery Center (CREN), and the other group of eutrophic children from a local, public day care center. At CREN, children are treated in a day-hospital system (9 hours/day, 5 days/week), receiving medical, nutritional and psycho-pedagogical support. All children were submitted to the Denver-II Development Screening Test and had their development and the height-for-age index assessed at 3 moments: at the beginning of the follow-up, and after 6 and 12 months. The socioeconomic status, according to the Brazilian Economic Classification Criteria, was assessed at the beginning of the follow-up. Data were treated by prevalence ratios for cross-sectional baseline analysis, using the Poisson regression, and by pooled prevalence ratios for longitudinal analysis, using a generalized equation estimation model, both adjusted by age, sex and economic status. Results: Seventy-four children were included, 37 for each group. There were no differences in age, sex and socioeconomic status between groups. In the longitudinal analysis, the CREN group showed better performance in the personal-social domain (pooled prevalence ratio: 0.89; 95% confidence interval - 95%IC 0.82-0.95), with no differences in the other domains. Conclusions: The treatment offered at CREN satisfactorily improved the social skills of the treated children, without changing other domains.</p><p></p>