Injury patterns and use of passenger restraints were studied in 91 children injured while riding in motor vehicles and admitted to The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, from June 1984 through December 1985. Of theses, 44 had used restraints and 38 had not. Nine were excluded from the study because restraint use could not be determined. Age and sex distributions were closely matched in both study groups. The no-restraint group had more massive head injuries, thoracic injuries, and liver and spleen injuries than the restraint group. Classic "seatbelt syndrome" injuries were seen in the seatbelt group. The overall Injury Severity Scores were not significantly different between the groups. Despite mandatory legislation, many children do not use restraints, and many who do still suffer severe or fatal injuries. We conclude that better compliance with existing passenger restraint laws and more effective restraint systems are needed.