Purpose: Children with malignancies in whom life-threatening complications develop are traditionally considered as having a grim prognosis. Clinical predictors of short-term outcome for rational triage to pediatric intensive care units (PICU) were retrospectively assessed. Patients and Methods: The records of 94 children consecutively admitted to the PICU at the authors' institution between January 1989 and January 1999 were reviewed, and predictors of 30-day mortality rates were delineated using stepwise logistic regression. Results: The children's mean age was 7.3 years (range, 2-21). Their diseases included hematologic malignancies 45 (48%), extracranial solid tumors 21 (22%), and intracranial tumors 28 (30%). The overall 30-day survival rate was 66%. Mortality was highest among children admitted for respiratory failure (40%). High mortality was also found for those with circulatory collapse (33.3%) and neurologic deterioration (31%). The admitting pediatric risk of mortality score (PRISM) among the survivors was 6.6 ± 1.3, compared with 15.2 ± 3 among non-survivors (P < 0.01). The number of organ system failures was higher among the nonsurvivors on admission (P < 0.001). The need for ventilatory or inotropic support corresponded to worse outcome (P < 0.001 or P < 0.01, respectively). Overall, 36 (38%) of the children had sepsis during their PICU stay, with a mortality rate of 50% compared with 24% among nonseptic children (P < 0.01). Sepsis present on admission was later correlated with the development of organ system failure (P < 0.01). Conclusions: New trends in therapeutic approaches to children with malignancies can clearly improve outcome. The high (66%) survival rate justifies policy of early admission to the PICU of children in whom signs of multiorgan involvement start to develop, as reflected by high PRISM and the need for ventilatory or inotropic support. Further refinement of reliable clinical predictors of survival will enable better triage of these children to the PICU for possible prevention of systemic complications and reduction of mortality rates.