Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) primarily affect young adults, but in 15%-25% of cases, the initial disease starts in childhood. Many aspects of inflammatory bowel disease, including initial evaluation, nutritional support, medical and surgical intervention, and the direction of future research, are encountered in both adult and pediatric patients. However, it is important to delineate issues specific to pediatric patients, especially growth velocity impairment, derangements in and treatment of abnormal bone mineralization, and transitional care issues; the lack of extensive randomized, controlled pediatric therapeutic trials is also a concern. This article reviews the epidemiology of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease incidence and prevalence worldwide, clinical issues (including impairments of growth velocity and bone density), diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, and psychosocial issues unique to pediatric patients. Future research directions defined by the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and opportunities provided by existing pediatric research databases are highlighted.