The respiratory inductance plethysmograph was used to analyse the ventilatory cycle during drinking, chewing and swallowing of normal and cerebral-palsied children aged between five and 12 years. 33 children were divided equally into three groups: normal, spastic CP and athetoid CP. A few of the children with spastic CP and over half of those with athetoid CP were unable to perform the 'big breath' task. In the remaining trials, the children with CP held their breath for a shorter time than normal children. Many children with CP required multiple swallows to consume 5mL of liquid. In the majority of trials, normal children swallowed liquids at or near the peak of inspiration, whereas the children with CP did not. Supplementary swallows and solid-bolus swallows occurred at any point in the ventilatory cycle in all groups. The children with CP had a greater need to inspire at the end of liquid tasks, especially during the 75mL task.