Acute pancreatitis in children is a little known and poorly defined disease, and thus rarely considered in the diagnosis of pediatric abdominal pain. In the past 14 years, the authors treated 21 children who had acute pancreatitis. Trauma was the cause of the disease in 29% of the patients. One third (33%) had hypovolemic shock-related pancreatitis (mostly after either cardiopulmonary bypass or severe gastrointestinal bleeding). Furthermore, a major proportion (38%) had severe underlying organic disease. The clinical presentation was unremarkable; most patients (83%) had abdominal pain, especially in the epigastrium, and vomiting was the only other clinical sign exhibited by more than 50%. The Glasgow score (a severity grading system based on eight laboratory values and calculated within the first 48 hours after admission) had good specificity but poor sensitivity. Amylasemia had no predictive value. More than half our patients (57%) had complications, mainly pseudocysts (24%) and relapse (14%), and about one quarter (24%) had severe pancreatitis. There were two deaths (10%), and all surviving children (90%) eventually were symptom-free. Treatment was conservative in the majority of cases; eight patients (38%) required surgery. Hypovolemic shock and a severe underlying pathology were identified as risk factors for the occurrence of severe pancreatitis (P < .005) or death (P < .001), but not for the development of complications.