Malignant bone tumours in the paediatric age group (0-14 years) are uncommon; various aetiological theories exist and few reports of incidence, age and sex distributions have been published. We examined the incidence of childhood malignant bone tumours in one large single region of the UK over an extended period of 50 years. The West Midlands specialist regional children's tumour registry holds data on all malignancies and benign brain tumours in children under 15 years in the West Midlands region, which has a population of around 1 million children. Demographic and clinical data have been abstracted and diagnoses reviewed by a panel of expert pathologists. During the period 1957-2006, 259 cases of malignant paediatric bone tumours were diagnosed. There were 153 osteosarcomas, 78 Ewing sarcomas and 28 other primary bone tumours. The overall age standardised rate was 4.66, with no increase over time, although there was a significant increase in the incidence of Ewing sarcomas in the period 1965-92. Sixty-eight per cent of tumours were in patients over 10 years, whereas the incidence in patients under 10 years showed a non-significant increase. Survival rates increased dramatically post-chemotherapy introduction, with Ewing sarcoma demonstrating better survival overall. This is a large study giving an overview of malignant bone tumours in the childhood population of a single region over an extended period, showing results consistent with national reports. It also examines late effects, which were mostly mobility/orthopaedic, although almost one-fifth of patients had cardiac problems and five went on to develop second malignancies.