The effectiveness of ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) on walking pattern was studied in 12 children with cerebral palsy between the ages of 3 and 7 years. Over a 2-year period two trials of fortnightly periods without AFOs were carried out. The range of ankle dorsiflexion, video analysis looking specifically at footfall, and rank scoring of the mediolateral shear force obtained using an oscilloscope printout from a Kistler force platform were compared with measurements obtained during periods when the child was wearing AFOs. The results using different outcomes were consistent, and indicated that the range of movement and gait deteriorated during the two trial periods during which the splints were not worn compared with periods during which the splints were worn. This finding needs to be confirmed in a large randomised controlled trial.