The pre-cooperative or handicapped child with decay presents a special challenge to the practitioner and may require sedation or general anesthesia. Treatment with an interim restoration may delay treatment until the child is more mature and can accept dental treatment and is a more conservative approach than sedation, extractions or general anesthesia. Glass ionomer materials have been utilized for this application, but little is known about their retention to carious dentin. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the presence of artificial dentin decay will affect the shear bond strength of two light-cured glass ionomer materials. VariGlass and Vitrebond glass ionomer materials were attached to carious and non-carious primary dentin surfaces and bond strengths determined. There were no significant differences in shear bond strengths between the decayed and non-decayed surfaces [p < or = .001]. VariGlass had higher shear bond strengths than Vitrebond only after a pre-treatment with the PAA containing liquid. Pre-treatment with the liquid provided with each light-cured glass ionomer was beneficial in all instances except for Vitrebond on non-decayed surfaces.