All animals coordinate growth and maturation to reach their final size and shape. In insects, insulin family molecules control growth and metabolism, whereas pulses of the steroid 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) initiate major developmental transitions. We show that 20E signaling also negatively controls animal growth rates by impeding general insulin signaling involving localization of the transcription factor dFOXO and transcription of the translation inhibitor 4E-BP. We also demonstrate that the larval fat body, equivalent to the vertebrate liver, is a key relay element for ecdysone-dependent growth inhibition. Hence, ecdysone counteracts the growth-promoting action of insulins, thus forming a humoral regulatory loop that determines organismal size.