Chronic inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy (CIDP) is a rare disease in childhood. We reviewed the clinical characteristics, response to therapy, and long-term prognosis in 13 children (1.5 to 16 years of age) diagnosed with CIDP at Washington University Medical Center, St. Louis, and the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, between 1979 and 1994. The most common presenting symptom (in 11/13 [85%]) was lower extremity weakness associated with difficulty in walking. Preceding events within 1 month of onset, mostly intercurrent infections or vaccinations, occurred in seven children (54%). The disease was monophasic in three children (23%). One relapse occurred in four (30%) and multiple relapses in six (46%). All patients had at least short-term response to steroids. Three children (23%) recovered completely during the first year. Ten children (77%) had residual weakness alter an average follow-up of 6 years. There seems to be two populations of children with CIDP. One subgroup, with a favorable prognosis, progressed to peak disability over less than 3 months; these children often have a monophasic course with complete resolution of symptoms and signs and withdrawal from all medications by 1 year after onset. A second subgroup progressed for 3 months or longer; these children all required substantial doses of prednisone for prolonged periods and had considerable long-term morbidity with persistent weakness.