Intraocular pressure (IOP) was measured in 54 pediatric patients (aged 7-21 years) with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who were treated with oral prednisone for 1-104 months. The difference in mean IOP between the treated patients (mean +/- SD, 15.62 +/- 4.11 mm Hg) and 55 age-matched controls (13.83 +/- 2.42 mm Hg) was statistically significant (P = 0.007). The IBD patients were classified as group I, IOP less than or equal to 19 mm Hg in both eyes, and group II, IOP greater than or equal to 20 mm Hg in either eye. Twelve of the 54 patients (22.2%) and none of the controls had IOP greater than or equal to 20 mm Hg (P less than 0.001). Seventeen of the 54 patients (31.5%) were characterized as "steroid responders" (IOP of greater than or equal to 20 mm Hg, change in IOP of greater than or equal to 6 mm Hg between visits, or difference in IOP of greater than or equal to 6 mm Hg between the two eyes). When the dose of prednisone was reduced to 0-10 mg/day 30 days or more before measurement, 9 steroid responders showed a decrease in IOP to within 2 SD of the mean control IOP; 7 of the 9 showed a decrease in IOP of greater than or equal to 6 mm Hg. These observations indicate that while prednisone is a causative factor in increasing the IOP, susceptibility to average doses of prednisone is highly variable, and patients need to be monitored on an individual basis. Because IBD is a chronic disorder that requires prolonged corticosteroid treatment, these children are at risk of developing steroid-induced glaucoma. Careful ophthalmologic monitoring of pediatric IBD patients, as well as of other pediatric patients who receive corticosteroid therapy, is recommended.