Drowning and near-drowning is often associated with severe hypothermia requiring active core rewarming.We performed rewarming by cardiopulmonary bypass(CPB). Between 1987 and 2007, 13 children (9 boys and 4 girls) with accidental hypothermia were rewarmed by extracorporeal circulation (ECC) in our institution. The average age of the patients was 3.2 years. Resuscitation was started immediately upon the arrival of the rescue team and was continuously performed during the transportation.All patients were intubated and ventilated. Core temperature at admission ranged from 20 to 29°C (mean 25.3°C). Connection to the CPB was performed by thoracic (9 patients) or femoral/iliac means (4 patients). Restoration of circulation was achieved in 11 patients (84.6%). After CPB termination two patients needed an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation system due to severe pulmonary edema.Five patients were discharged from hospital after prolonged hospital stay. During follow-up, two patients died(10 and 15 months, respectively) of pulmonary complications and one patient was lost to follow-up. The two remaining survivors were without neurological deficit.Modes of rewarming, age, sex, rectal temperature, and serum electrolytes did not influence mortality. In conclusion,drowning and near-drowning with severe hypothermia remains a challenging emergency. Rewarming by ECC provides efficient rewarming and full circulatory support.Although nearly half of the children may survive after rewarming by ECC, long-term outcome is limited by pulmonary and neurological complications.