Assessment of antiretroviral treatment programmes for HIV-infected children in sub-Saharan Africa is important to enable the development of effective care and improve treatment outcomes. We review the effectiveness of paediatric antiretroviral treatment programmes in sub-Saharan Africa and discuss the implications of these findings for the care and treatment of HIV-infected children in this region. Available reports indicate that programmes in sub-Saharan Africa achieve treatment outcomes similar to those in North America and Europe. However, progress in several areas is required to improve the care of HIV-infected children in sub-Saharan Africa. The findings emphasise the need for low-cost diagnostic tests that allow for earlier identification of HIV infection in infants living in sub-Saharan Africa, improved access to antiretroviral treatment programmes, including expansion of care into rural areas, and the integration of antiretroviral treatment programmes with other health-care services, such as nutritional support. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.