Electrophysiologic studies play a key role in the detection and characterization of the pattern in childhood polyneuropathies. In this study, the etiologic profile of 74 children with polyneuropathy was prospectively evaluated based on the electrophysiologic studies. Five electrodiagnostic patterns were identified in the cohort: (1) acute axonal polyneuropathy (n: 32, 43%); (2) chronic axonal polyneuropathy (n: 16, 22%); (3) demyelinating motor and sensory polyneuropathy (n: 13, 17%); (4) pure sensory polyneuropathy (n: 11, 15%); (5) high-low syndrome (n: 2, 3%). Etiologic factors were identified in all of the patients with three electrodiagnostic patterns of polyneuropathy: acute axonal, pure sensory, and high-low syndrome. However, etiologic factors could not be determined in 5 (31%) children with chronic axonal polyneuropathy and in 3 (23%) children with demyelinating sensory and motor polyneuropathy. Among children with the acute axonal pattern, toxic causes were evident in 18 (56%), acute motor axonal neuropathy in 11 (35%), and acute motor sensory axonal polyneuropathy in 3 (9%). Nine (82%) patients with pure sensory polyneuropathy had diabetes mellitus. In conclusion, a thorough history and physical examination in conjunction with specific electrodiagnostic patterns might provide a cost-effective and rational differential diagnosis of childhood polyneuropathies. (c) 2006 by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.