Pulmonary embolism (PE) is rare in childhood but evidence suggests it is under-recognised. Children diagnosed with PE at a large tertiary centre over an 8-year period were retrospectively reviewed. Fifty-six children with radiologically proven PE were identified, 31 males and 25 females, median age 12 years. Eighty-four per cent had symptoms of PE. Risk factors for thromboembolism were present in 54 patients (96·4%); most commonly immobility (58·9%), central venous line (35·7%) and recent surgery (28·6%). Investigation revealed a thrombophilic abnormality in 14/40 patients (35%). Concurrent deep vein thrombosis was confirmed in 31 patients (55·4%), predominantly lower limb. D dimer was elevated at presentation in 26/30 patients (86·7%). Eight patients underwent systemic thrombolysis. An inferior vena cava filter was placed in five patients. Therapy was complicated by major haemorrhage in 12 patients (21·4%). The majority (82·1%) had complete or partial resolution of PE following a median of 3 months anticoagulation. Seven patients had a recurrent thromboembolic event and 12 patients died (mortality 21·4%); five due to thromboembolism (8·9%) and two due to haemorrhage. Risk factors for PE in children are distinct from adults and morbidity and mortality is significant. Multicentre prospective studies are required to determine optimal treatment and long-term outcome of childhood PE.