Feeding difficulties, vomiting and recurrent chest infections associated with poor growth and nutrition are common in children with cerebral palsy (CP). However, the role of gastrooesophageal reflux as a possible cause has been little studied. We therefore investigated 23 children with cerebral palsy (median age 2.3 years, range 0.6-11.8) whose symptoms were consistent with gastrooesophageal reflux (severe feeding difficulties 70%, failure to thrive 52%, anaemia 31% and recurrent chest infections 31%). Using 24-hour ambulatory oesophageal pH monitoring, we determined the relationship between gastrooesophageal reflux and: (a) developmental age (Griffith's scales); (b) feeding behaviour skills score; (c) nutritional status and (d) clinical assessment of cerebral palsy (type and severity). Abnormal gastrooesophageal reflux (i.e. reflux index > 5%) was detected in 16 (70%) patients (median reflux index 11.4%; range 5.4-59%). Reflux was unrelated to chronological or developmental age, but there was a significant, unexplained association with male gender (P < 0.01). No correlation was found with feeding behaviour skills score, malnutrition (which was commonly severe) and type and severity of cerebral palsy. We conclude that gastrooesophageal reflux is common and should be sought in symptomatic, neurologically handicapped children as effective treatment is likely to improve quality of life.