Biliary atresia is the most common indication for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) in the pediatric population. The outcomes of liver transplantation for biliary atresia, however, have not been formally examined on a national scale. The objective of this study was to identify pretransplant variables that predict patient survival after primary liver transplantation for biliary atresia. A cohort of 1,976 pediatric patients undergoing primary liver transplantation for biliary atresia between 1/1988 to 12/2003 was enrolled from the United Network for Organ Sharing database after excluding patients with a history of multiorgan transplant or previous liver transplant. Follow-up data up to 16 years post-OLT was available. The 5- and 10-year actuarial survival rates of patients that underwent liver transplantation for biliary atresia in the United States are 87.2% and 85.8%, respectively, and the 5- and 10-year graft actuarial survival rates are 76.2% and 72.7%, respectively. Early deaths (< or =90 days post-OLT) were more often caused by graft failure (P = 0.01), whereas late deaths (>90 days post-OLT) were more often due to malignancy (P < 0.01). An analysis of outcomes over time demonstrated a decrease in post-OLT survival and an increase in the number of OLTs done for biliary atresia at an increasing number of centers. A multivariate analysis revealed that cadaveric partial/reduced liver grafts, a history of life support at the time of OLT, and decreased age were independent predictors of increased post-OLT mortality. In conclusion, OLT is an effective treatment for biliary atresia. Certain pretransplant variables may help predict patient survival following liver transplantation for biliary atresia.