As increasing numbers of young people with chronic illness reach adulthood, their ongoing medical care must evolve to be delivered in an adult rather than paediatric setting, a process known as transition. Towards this goal, increasing numbers of paediatric and adult hospitals are engaging in processes to promote the continuity of care for young people with chronic illness. Increasing evidence shows that adverse health consequences occur when inadequate transition arrangements are in place. This article draws from the experience of a transition programme emanating from the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne and describes the preparation that can ensure effective transition of young people with chronic illness to adult institutions. In paediatric settings, this includes opportunities for young people to be seen medically on their own to encourage independence with health-care goals and ensuring that adequate health information is transferred to the adult service. In adult institutions, understanding the concept of adolescent development will encourage young people's engagement with the new health-care providers to improve health outcomes. Joint clinics between paediatric and adult health-care teams can improve the transfer of individual patient knowledge, promote a collaborative approach to patient care, facilitate continuity of care and build confidence from both medical and patient perspectives. Including patients in decision-making processes around transition services will encourage youth-focused service developments that will help achieve optimal outcomes in young people with chronic illness.