Treatment of encopresis in childhood is often a long and trying process. Children followed for secondary encopresis in a multidisciplinary clinic between 1984 and 1989 were sent a parent/child mail questionnaire seeking information on their understanding of encopresis as well as their opinions on current treatment modalities. Twenty-eight families responded (20 boys and 8 girls), the child's mean age was 9.8 years, and the mean time elapsed after diagnosis was 3.5 years. Parents and children reported that intestinal dysfunction (53%) and painful defecation (46%) were the most important causes of their encopresis. Treatment modalities including enemas were well accepted by both parents and children, with parents considering dietary changes the most useful treatment modality (p < .01). Children reported that regular "toilet routine" was the most helpful in reestablishing continence. Despite good comprehension of the problem and acceptance of the treatment modalities, the complete recovery rate after 3.5 years was only 35.7%, with no differences noted between responders and nonresponders. Encopresis is a chronic condition that persists in a significant proportion of patients, despite adequate patient and parental knowledge and patient acceptance of treatment.