This is a 13-month follow-up study of 105 two to 17 year-old children bereaved of one patient, with 85 controls. Data were gathered on physical and mental health in the children and surviving parents, the child's sex and age and the bereaved parent's sex and psychopathology being included as risk factors. Dysphoria, falling school performance and withdrawn behaviour were significantly increased in bereaved children of both sexes at all ages, while temper tantrums, bedwetting and the depressive syndrome only increased in the age and sex categories normally associated with these conditions. A global index of psychopathology was increased compared with controls on most subgroups of bereaved children (P < 0.0001), the highest scores for both sexes being associated with having a mentally ill (usually depressed) widowed mother. The results are discussed and suggestions made for future research.