Background: A study was undertaken to evaluate whether adults differ from children in the indications and outcome of diaphragmatic plication following phrenic nerve injury. Methods: A retrospective study was performed of 21 patients, 10 below the age of 5 and 11 older than 37 years. The indication for surgery for all the children was failure to wean from ventilatory support. The indications for surgery in the adult group were ventilator dependency (n=4) and symptomatic dyspnoea (n=7). All patients had at least one imaging study confirming diaphragmatic paralysis. The American Thoracic Society (ATS) dyspnoea scale, pulmonary function tests, and quantitative pulmonary perfusion scans were used as evaluation parameters. At surgery the diaphragm was centrally plicated. Results: One child died immediately after surgery due to irreversible heart failure and two children died within 2 months of surgery from ongoing complications of their original condition. These three patients were considered as selection failures. Seven children were weaned from ventilatory support within a median of 4 days (range 2-140). Only one of four ventilated adults was successfully weaned. Seven adults who underwent surgery for chronic symptoms had a marked subjective improvement of 2-3 levels in the ATS dyspnoea scale. Pulmonary function studies in the seven symptomatic adults showed a 40% improvement above baseline. Severely asymmetrical perfusion scans reverted to a normal pattern after plication. Conclusions: Diaphragmatic plication offers a significant benefit to children with diaphragmatic paralysis and should be performed early to facilitate weaning from mechanical ventilation. While plication is of limited benefit in weaning ventilated adults, it results in significant subjective and objective lifetime improvement in non-ventilated symptomatic adults.