AIM: To characterise the distribution of major growth plate proteoglycans in a group of infants who died of SIDS. METHODS: Nine such infants and eight age matched controls were selected from the necropsy files at the Adelaide Children's Hospital. Sections of rib and adjacent costal cartilage were stained for chondroitin-4-sulphate, chondroitin-6-sulphate, and keratan sulphate with antibodies 2-B-6, 3-B-3, and 5-D-4, respectively, using standard techniques. RESULTS: The distribution of proteoglycans within the extracellular matrix of the costochondral junction in the group of SIDS infants was identical with that found in control infants. CONCLUSION: Any changes present in the growth plate in cases of SIDS are most likely caused by secondary phenomena.