The majority of patients with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy require corrective spinal surgery for scoliosis to maintain seated balance and to slow the progression of respiratory compromise, thereby facilitating nursing and enhancing their quality of life. Traditionally patients with a pre-operative forced vital capacity (PFVC) of 30% or below predicted have been denied this surgery as it was thought that the incidence of postoperative complications was unacceptably high. We present data collected prospectively from 45 consecutive operations undertaken in our unit. These cases indicate that there is no clinically significant difference in operative and postoperative outcomes between patients with PFVC > 30% and < or =30%. However, the routine postoperative use of mask ventilation to facilitate early tracheal extubation is vital.