Apple tree architecture is naturally very diverse, but for fruit production, certain tree habits are more desirable than others. Here we describe the results of a QTL analysis performed to study the genetic control of growth traits in apple. This was carried out on the progeny of a cross between two apple cultivars of contrasting tree architectures. "Telamon" has a columnar tree form and "Braeburn" has a more standard, "normal" growth habit. The growth traits were measured on the F (1) seedlings of the Telamon x Braeburn population for two consecutive years of growth on own roots and for the first year of growth on M9 rootstock. QTL analysis was carried out using either the Kruskal-Wallis method or the Multiple QTL Method. For all but one growth characteristic, significant QTLs were detected. A major cluster of QTLs was located in the Co gene region of "Telamon", confirming the major influence of the Co gene on tree architecture, although this influence changed as the plant material aged and was generally more pronounced for rootstock-grown plants. Additional QTL results suggest the occurrence of genes with pleiotropic effects on tree architecture. The observed QTL instability over different years and for different root systems indicates that the genetic control of tree architecture is largely influenced by environmental factors and probably changes as the tree matures. Finally, a major influence of the root system on all the traits determining tree architecture was clearly demonstrated.