This article reports on children's experiences of hospitalization. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with 11 children aged between seven and 14 years from four paediatric units in England. The children identified a range of fears and concerns, which included: separation from parents and family; unfamiliar environment; investigations and treatments; and loss of self-determination. The children's loss of self-determination over personal needs exacerbated their fears and concerns. It needs to be recognized that compliance with hospital routines is a variable, which influences children's reaction to hospitalization. The findings clearly indicate that children need adequate information tailored to their needs, that their views are sought in the planning and delivery of their care and that hospital environments need to be made more child-centred. Interventions designed to reduce children's stress during hospitalization are not only likely to decrease their stress at the time, but also likely to influence how future experiences are appraised and managed.