Back pain in children has long been considered a serious condition with an organic cause. The staff of the Shriner's Hospital had been informally noting that diagnoses among children with back pain had been changing. We conducted a retrospective study of 648 patients with spinal disorders treated at the Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children, Spokane Unit, between January 1991 and June 1993. The patients were divided into two groups: those with pain and those without pain. It was found that back pain with no organic cause was the primary diagnosis in 57% of the group having pain. Only one child had a diagnosis of malignancy, and there were no cases of active infection. In the group with pain, three interesting associations were found concerning psychosocial problems, disability, and litigation. It was found that the diagnoses in children with back pain treated at this referral center during the study period parallel those in the adult population with back pain.