Bowel preparation methods for total colonoscopy in children generally involve whole gut irrigation with electrolyte lavage solutions, which in most children will require hospitalisation for nasogastric tube administration. The aim of the study was to determine the efficacy of oral bisacodyl combined with a single phosphate enema as a bowel preparation regimen in children. In an open prospective trial, 30 children (aged 18 months-15 years) were given oral bisacodyl on each morning of the two days before colonoscopy. The children were maintained on a normal diet. A phosphate enema was administered on the morning of the procedure. The adequacy of bowel preparation was graded as grade I if no faecal material was encountered, grade II if small amounts of faecal material were present in scattered locations, and grade III if there was poor preparation with faecal material precluding satisfactory visualisation of the bowel mucosa. Eight children (26.6%) had minor abdominal cramps when taking bisacodyl, but all had a previous history of similar pain. Five children (16.6%), all under 5 years of age, cried during the administration of phosphate enema. Bowel preparation was considered excellent (grade I) in 26 (86.6%) and good (grade II) in four (13.3%). In all patients adequate visualisation of the bowel mucosa was obtained. Oral bisacodyl combined with a single phosphate enema provides an ideal method of preparing the bowel for total colonoscopy. This preparation allows colonoscopy to be carried out as a day case procedure in children while maintaining them on a normal diet.