A 15-month-old girl who developed respiratory distress which persisted for three days prior to admission demonstrated pleural effusion on the chest x-ray which was determined to be due to esophageal perforation caused by the ingestion of a ball point. A gastrotomy was performed to extract the ball point. A gastrostomy was performed and a chest tube was inserted. The esophagus was normal radiologically within one month. Foreign body ingestion may cause esophageal perforation in childhood. If it goes unnoticed and a diagnosis is delayed, there is danger of the more hazardous development of mediastinitis. It is important that a child with respiratory distress also be evaluated for esophageal foreign body ingestion.