The experimental observation that certain crystal faces do not grow, despite being in contact with supersaturated solution, is a widely reported phenomenon. This concept of a growth ‘dead zone’ has been known for many years but its origin remains an unresolved problem in crystal growth. Sometimes it seems to be an inherent feature of the solution growth process while at others it appears that an impurity is an essential element for its appearance. Here we review existing data and provide new experimental evidence to confirm the widespread existence of the dead zone across a range of molecular materials. Available crystal growth kinetics are confronted with mechanistic models. Examination of the packing arrangements of appropriate crystal faces suggests that this behavior is linked to molecular scale surface roughness.