Pediatric and adolescent athletes presenting with back pain are much more likely to have a pathologic cause for their symptoms than are adult patients. For this reason, it is important for those caring for younger athletes to maintain a high index of suspicion for some of the more common pathologic causes of back pain in this population. Diagnostic evaluation should be undertaken more quickly in pediatric and adolescent athletes. Sports-related diagnoses that must be considered include disc-related back pain, atypical Scheuermann's kyphosis, spondylolysis, and spondylolisthesis. Patients of this age may also present with conditions not associated with activity, including discitis, classic Scheuermann's disease, rheumatologic disease, and spinal tumors. History and physical exam provide valuable information to help guide further diagnostic studies which, in turn, will determine necessary treatment. No definitive studies are available regarding the diagnosis and treatment of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. Health professionals need to consider the expertise of a local radiologist when deciding upon diagnostic imaging procedures. The athlete's age and sport played can contribute to the appropriate treatment plan.