Refugee children may encounter barriers to accessing mental health services. We conducted a case-control study based on a systematic review of clinic records to compare psychopathology and service utilization in refugee and Norwegian children referred to a child psychiatry department in a county in southern Norway. Sixty-one refugee children were compared with 61 Norwegian-born children matched for gender, age and time of referral to the clinic. There was no significant difference in rates of referral or level of service utilization, which were proportional to the population. Compared with Norwegian children, refugee children were diagnosed more frequently with post-traumatic stress disorder and other affective and emotional disorders, and less often with pervasive developmental disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The results are discussed in terms of referral pathways and the need for culturally competent care for refugee children.