Researchers have come to understand a great deal about pain mechanisms, especially in the past 30 years. This understanding has spawned the development of a number of psychological pain control strategies which have been extensively assessed for use with adults. Less is known about pain control strategies in children. The purpose of this study was to assess the value of 2 cognitive strategies (suggestion and music distraction) in reducing pain in children. Two hundred children, aged 4.5-6.5 years, receiving routine immunization injections were randomly assigned to one of the intervention groups in this factorial study. The groups were designated as: distraction, distraction with suggestion, suggestion and control. Subjects reported their pain using a 4-point pain scale. Distraction was found to significantly decrease pain whereas suggestion did not. Combining suggestion and distraction did not further enhance pain relief compared to use of distraction alone. Age was found to be an important determinant of the success of distraction. Furthermore, age was found to be related to amount of pain reported by children regardless of type of treatment. The results of this study support the use of music distraction in the reduction of injection pain in children.