Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is the most common pediatric psychiatric disorder, involving one of every 20 children. It is often a disabling condition and is frequently accompanied by high levels of frustration and comorbidity. Diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder requires a detailed history from the family and use of rating scales to collect observations from two or more settings. Effective treatment, including behavior management, appropriate educational placement and stimulant medication, will improve academic performance and behavior in most patients. Armed with an organized approach and a broad general knowledge of stimulant therapy, the family physician can effectively evaluate and coordinate the initial therapy for many of these troubled children within the office setting. Children in whom initial management fails or for whom the diagnosis is unclear or complicated should be referred to appropriate mental health professionals.