BACKGROUND There is no evidence that the results of laparoscopic fundoplication in children match those of the open procedure. In the current report, pre- and postoperative function of the antireflux barrier is examined in children having laparoscopic fundoplication for gastroesophageal reflux. METHODS Twenty-seven patients with gastroesophageal reflux, aged 7.2+/-4.5 years, were operated on for unremitting gastrointestinal symptoms (n = 24), with respiratory tract disease (n = 11), cystic fibrosis (n = 2), or brain damage (n = 11). Gastrostomy was added in 5 cases. Barium contrast study, pH-metering, endoscopic examination, and biopsy were performed before and after a median of 19 months (range, 8 to 46) after operation. RESULTS At diagnosis, 15 of 21 patients had esophagitis that was moderate or severe in 11 (1 with Barrett's esophagus). Symptoms disappeared after fundoplication in all but 2 patients, in whom they became milder. The reflux index decreased from 20.2+/-20% to 4.9+/-9% and became normal in all except 4 children (2 with brain damage and 1 with cystic fibrosis). Open repair of the failed wrap was considered necessary in only 1 of them. CONCLUSIONS Laparoscopic fundoplication is as effective as the open procedure (14% overall failure rate). However, the failure rate in neurologic patients (18%) suggests that before reaching conclusions on the benefits of this approach, careful long-term assessment of the functional results is necessary.