We carried out a retrospective analysis of imaging and clinical findings in 52 children with a history of cervical spinal trauma. No patient had evidence of a fracture on plain films or CT. All had MRI at 1.5 T because of persistent or delayed symptoms, unexplained findings of injury or instability, or as further assessment of the extent of soft-tissue injury. Clinical follow-up ranged from 6 months to 3.5 years. MRI was evaluated for its influence on therapy and outcome. MRI was positive in 16 (31%) of 52 patients. Posterior soft-tissue or ligamentous injury was the most common finding in the 10 patients with mild to moderate trauma, while acute disc bulges and longitudinal ligament disruption, each seen in one case, were uncommon. MRI was superior to CT for assessment of the extent of soft-tissue injury and for identification of spinal cord injuries and intracanalicular hemorrhage in the six patients with more severe trauma. MRI specifically influenced the management of all four patients requiring surgery by extending the level of posterior stabilization. No patients with normal MRI or any of the 10 with radiographically stable soft-tissue injury on MRI, developed delayed clinical or radiographic evidence of instability or deformity.