Purpose of review Children and adolescents with eating disorders frequently present to child mental health and paediatric services and have significant morbidity, psychosocial impairment and mortality. Efforts to treat these individuals have been hampered by a poor evidence base for effective interventions. This article reviews research published during 2004 with a primary focus on this challenging clinical area. Recent findings Research published during 2004 has replicated past epidemiological findings and expanded our understanding of the relationship of family meal structure and disordered eating. Research has provided assistance in the well known clinical conundrums of excessive exercising in anorexia nervosa and predicting when return of menses will occur. There has also been clarification of adolescent bingeing. Potential advances include a new, noninvasive method of measuring body composition and investigations in adolescents on leptin, neuro and gastrointestinal peptides. Importantly, further evidence of the effectiveness of family therapy for anorexia nervosa and short-term benefits from intervention programs have been published. Summary The research base that will influence clinical practice in child and adolescent eating disorders is increasing. More research is required in all areas of intervention.