The introduction of multidetector row computed tomography (MDCT) scanners has altered the approach to imaging the paediatric thorax. In an environment where the rapid acquisition of CT data allows general hospitals to image children instead of referring them to specialist paediatric centres, it is vital that general radiologists have access to protocols appropriate for paediatric applications. Thus a dramatic reduction in the delivered radiation dose is ensured with optimal contrast bolus delivery and timing, and inappropriate repetition of the scans is avoided. This article focuses on the main principles of volumetric CT imaging that apply generically to all MDCT scanners. We describe the reconstruction techniques for imaging the paediatric thorax and the low-dose protocols used in our institution on a 16-slice detector CT scanner. Examples of the commonest clinical applications are also given.