A retrospective analysis was done to determine the efficacy of shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) and ureteroscopy in the treatment of paediatric ureteral calculi. We reviewed the records of 67 (35 boys, 32 girls) children (71 ureters) admitted to our clinic for treatment of ureteral calculi during 1990-2005. The initial treatment method was SWL in 80.3% (57 ureters), ureteroscopy in 11.3% (eight ureters) and open surgery in 8.5% (six ureters) of the renal units. The mean age of the patients was 10.67 +/- 4.4(1-16) years. The stone-free rates after SWL for upper, middle and lower ureteral calculi were 74.1, 100 and 75.9%, respectively. Increased stone diameter (P = 0.014) and/or burden (P = 0.002) were found to be significant factors that had an adverse affect on the stone-free rate after SWL while the success rates of SWL were independent of location. Including six patients (seven ureters) with failed SWL, a total of 14 patients (15 renal units) subjected to ureteroscopy for lower ureteral calculi yielded a stone-free rate of 93.3%. Thus, the overall stone-free rates after SWL, ureteroscopy and open surgery were found to be 75.4, 93.3 and 100%, respectively. Depending on the stone burden, SWL might be a good option for initial treatment of most ureteral calculi in children. Ureteroscopy offers a high success rate for lower ureteral calculi, including SWL failures.