OBJECTIVE: There is little knowledge on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of injured children and adolescents after road traffic accidents (RTA). Although findings in injured adults suggest that post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) may be important predictors of HRQOL, this issue has never been prospectively examined in children. The aim of the present study was therefore to prospectively assess HRQOL in children after RTA and specifically examine the impact of PTSS on HRQOL. METHOD: Sixty-eight children (aged 6.5-14.5 years) were interviewed 1 month and 1 year after an RTA using the Child PTSD Reaction Index and the Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek-Academisch Ziekenhuis Leiden (TNO-AZL) Questionnaire for Children's Health-Related Quality of Life. Parents and physicians were assessed with questionnaires. RESULTS: Eleven children (16.2%) showed moderate to severe post-traumatic stress reactions at 1 month, and 12 children (17.6%) at 1 year. At 1 month, patients reported reduced motor functioning and autonomy and impairments in some parts of emotional functioning compared to a community sample. At 1 year all dimensions of HRQOL were within or above normal ranges. Multivariate analysis indicated that PTSS at 1 month significantly predicted HRQOL at 1 year. CONCLUSIONS: This prospective study provides evidence for a long-term negative influence of early PTSS on HRQOL in injured children. The return of injured children to pre-injury HRQOL may therefore not only depend on optimal medical care but also on awareness and timely interventions regarding PTSS.