Summary Objective To determine retrospectively the localization, etiology and treatment of inflammatory diseases of the salivary glands in infants and children and to evaluate treatment outcome. Patients and methods Forty-five patients were treated in our institution in the period 1966–2000. The patients’ records were evaluated and the results and side-effects of therapy were documented by a controlled follow-up study. Results Twenty-five of our patients were females (55.6%) and 20 males (44.4%). Inflammatory disorders figured most prominently in the group of patients between 12 and 16 years ( n = 14). Inflammation of the submandibular glands was the most common disease with 53.3% ( n = 24). The most frequent underlying cause in this subgroup of acute and chronic sialadenitis was sialolithiasis of the submandibular gland (40%). All patients were symptom-free in the long-term follow-up and all were symptom-free after surgical intervention. Conclusions The present study shows that diseases of the salivary glands are rare among infants and children. Acute and chronic sialadenitis not responding to conservative treatment requires an appropriate surgical approach.