PURPOSE: To evaluate the long-term safety of polyethylene glycol (PEG) 4000 in children with constipation, particularly the biochemical aspects of safety. METHODS: Medical records were evaluated, and 100 children, who had been taking PEG 4000 for more than 6 months, and who had been under clinical and biochemical monitoring, were enrolled. Ages; 6.11+/-3.12 years, Duration of therapy; 16.93+/-7.02 months, dose of PEG 4000; 0.72+/-0.21 g/kg/d. RESULTS: None of the children complained of clinical adverse effect. The first biochemical test was performed at 8.05 months after beginning of PEG 4000. Serum phosphate (SP) value was high in 10 children, and leucopenia was noted in one child. The second test was performed in 44 children at 7.57 months after the first test. The SP value was high in four children, including the three children whose initial SP value was high and one new child. Six out of 10 children with high initial SP value became normal and one was lost. Hypernatremia was noted in one child. The third test was done in 15 children at 7.5 months after the second test. The SP value of the new child from the second test was high, but became normal after finishing treatment. Two out of 3 children with high SP value at the second test became normal and one was lost. The fourth test was done in 2 children few months after the third test. All of the results were normal. There were no relation between duration of therapy and hyperphosphatemia, or between dose of PEG 4000 and hyperphosphatemia. CONCLUSIONS: PEG 4000 is safe for long-term therapy in children with constipation with respect to biochemical parameters.