During the 6 years (1980-1985) at The Red Cross Children's Hospital 293 children required a tracheostomy during treatment of a variety of disorders. Of these children 44% were under 1 year of age. Indications are discussed of which the commonest was LTB. Of the 3500 children seen with laryngotracheobronchitis (LTB) 4.6% had a tracheostomy--28% of those requiring airway intervention. Overall 67% of the children were decannulated within 10 weeks and 92% within a year. For 56% one or more further procedures prior to decannulation were required, including 34 children who required a laryngotracheoplasty. Obstructing stomal granulation tissue had to be removed from 51 children and suprastomal collapse was a cause of decannulation failure in 52 children. Use of an expiratory valve as an aid to decannulation is discussed. Five children died of tracheostomy airway complications and 25 children of a medical disorder. One complication, laryngeal incompetence, was particularly associated with herpetic laryngeal ulceration. Staphylococcus aureus and Hemophilus influenzae were the main organisms cultured in the early weeks, with Pseudomonas and Streptococcus species predominating later.