FF-1s were delivered to Fighter Squadron VF-5B of the USS Lexington beginning in June 1933. In service the FF-1 became familiarly known as the "Fifi". Delivery of SF-1s started in 30 March 1934, and they also served aboard the Lexington, with Scout Squadron VS-3B.
Both the FF-1 and SF-1 were withdrawn from first-line US Navy squadrons by the end of 1936 and reallocated to reserve units, most of the FF-1s still being in service late in 1940. Later, 22 surviving FF-1s were modified with dual controls, redesignated FF-2 and used for instructional duties.
The Canadian Car & Foundry Co acquired a manufacturing licence for the G-23, and improved FF-1, of which it completed a total of 52, some of which were assembled from US-built components. Thirty-four were acquired by the Spanish Republican Government in 1937 by presenting forged Turkish credentials. This batch was built primarily to bypass the US embargo placed on belligerents during the Spanish Civil War. Referred to as the GE-23 Delfin (en:Dolphin) by the Spanish Republican Air Force, the aircraft fought in the conflict, but were outclassed by opposing fighters and losses were high. Despite this, a victory against a Heinkel He 59B would be the only recorded "kill" by a Grumman biplane fighter. Eleven survived to serve in the Ejército del Aire Español, nicknamed Pedro Rico for its rotundity.
Although initially rejected as a fighter by the Royal Canadian Air Force as outdated and too slow, with the advent of war, the last 15 of the CC&F production batch were taken on strength as the Goblin I. The aircraft type served with the RCAF from 17 September 1940 until 21 April 1942. "A" Flight of No. 118 RCAF Sqn was equipped with Goblins at Rockcliffe in Ottawa, and subsequently became No. 118 (Fighter) Sqn., later stationed at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where the Goblins for a time constituted the sole fighter force on the east coast.
Prior to RCAF use, single examples were delivered to Nicaragua, one to Japan, and another to Mexico.
The sole G-23 purchased by the Nicaraguan government saw limited service before being relegated to a scrap yard at Zololtan Air Field in 1942, destined to remain there until 1961 when it was purchased and shipped to the US. In 1966, Grumman restored the aircraft before passing it to the US Navy where it remains as one of the displays at the Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola, Florida.
The Japanese example was purchased as an example of Grumman's undercarriage, however by the time it was delivered better designs were already in use.
The Mexican example was intended to be a pattern aircraft to allow a production line to be set up there but this never occurred.