Correct diagnosis of fractures and dislocations of the cervical spine in children requires an awareness of the pseudosubluxation and other normal variants noted in x-ray films of patients in this age group. Fractures of the odontoid process occur frequently and almost always can be treated by closed reduction and external fixation until union occurs. Fractures of the lower cervical spine are difficult to detect roentgenographically, and x-ray changes can belie the severity of soft tissue injury and cord trauma. Instability tends to persist in adolescent patients after cervical spine injury because of the combination of epiphyseal and posterior ligamentous disruption. Neoplastic, inflammatory, and congenital lesions render the cervical spine vulnerable to injury and can permit major damage to result from minor stress.