A rise in the serum calcitonin (CT) following provocative testing has facilitated making the diagnosis of occult medullary carcinoma of the thyroid (MCT) or C cell hyperplasia (CCH) in asymptomatic children of kindred with multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) type IIa. Findings were reviewed for seven children varying in age from 3 to 16 years screened at our institution between 1976 and 1986. Three had elevated basal calcitonin (S-CT). Six had significant elevation of calcitonin (delta-CT) after stimulation. Total thyroidectomy was performed in all seven. Five had MCT with bilobar involvement in three. CCH was present in all five. Two patients had no gross, microscopic, or immunohistochemical evidence of MCT or CCH. One of three had an elevated S-CT. The other had a significant delta-CT. All patients have normal postoperative S-CT and delta-CT. Our experience indicates the importance of beginning stimulation tests of affected kindred at less than 3 years of age. It appears, however, that neither elevated S-CT or positive delta-CT are perfect predictors of parafollicular cell pathology. Solitary parathyroid enlargement, second thyroid malignancy, and branchial pouch anomalies may occur with MEN IIa. One patient with MCT had a focus of papillary carcinoma. One patient with primary hyperparathyroidism had a solitary enlarged parathyroid adenoma. Additional findings were the presence of nodules of ectopic thymus in close association with the thyroid gland in three patients.