It is widely believed that the improved survival of young people with chronic diseases will be associated with the development of appropriate services within the adult healthcare domain. There is, however, little evidence to suggest that this is happening at a rate commensurate with clinical requirements. This paper highlights the multiplicity of barriers that impede the development of transition services to facilitate the transfer of medical care from the paediatric to the adult domain. Different models of transition care are described, and the terms 'transfer' and 'transition' are differentiated. The clinical demand for service development is highlighted, as well as the need for specific research in this area of healthcare delivery.