This study was undertaken to establish whether children with myelomeningocele have abnormal kinaesthesia of the hands. Twenty-one children with myelomeningocele and 21 control children, aged between six and 12 years, were involved in the study. The level of kinaesthetic awareness in the hands was measured by examining the child's ability to copy hand positions, using visual cueing and kinaesthetic cueing. Both accuracy and speed of copying hand gestures were assessed. Children with spina bifida were significantly less accurate in achieving hand positions than the control group (chi((1))(2) 22.60, p < 0.001), with 73% of the children with spina bifida achieving accurate replications compared with 87% in the control group. Furthermore, children with myelomeningocele were shown to be slower than the controls (F-(1,F-2810) = 15.49, p < 0.001). The impaired kinaesthetic awareness found in this study is considered to be one of the factors behind the poor hand function observed in children with myelomeningocele.