Nine children surviving severe adult respiratory distress syndrome were studied 0.9 to 4.2 years after the acute illness. They had received artificial ventilation for a mean of 9.4 days, with an Fio2 greater than 0.5 during a mean time of 34 hours and maximal positive end expiratory pressure levels in the range of 8 to 20 cm H2O. Three children had recurrent respiratory symptoms (moderate exertional dyspnea and cough), and two had evidence of fibrosis on chest radiographs. All patients had abnormal lung function; the most prominent findings were ventilation inequalities, as judged by real-time moment ratio analysis of multibreath nitrogen washout curves (abnormal in eight of nine patients) and hypoxemia (seven of nine). Lung volumes were less abnormal; one patient had restrictive and two had obstructive disease. A significant correlation between intensive care measures (Fio2 greater than 0.5 in hours and peak inspiratory plateau pressure) and lung function abnormalities (moment ratio analysis and hypoxemia) was found. A possibly increased susceptibility of the pediatric age group to the primary insult or respiratory therapy of adult respiratory distress syndrome is suggested.