Abstract Background The evaluation of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in health care has seen greater use in recent years, and methods to improve the reliability and validity of PRO instruments are advancing. This paper discusses the cognitive interviewing procedures employed by the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) pediatrics group for the purpose of developing a dynamic, electronic item bank for field testing with children and adolescents using novel computer technology. The primary objective of this study was to conduct cognitive interviews with children and adolescents to gain feedback on items measuring physical functioning, emotional health, social health, fatigue, pain, and asthma-specific symptoms. Methods A total of 88 cognitive interviews were conducted with 77 children and adolescents across two sites on 318 items. From this initial item bank, 25 items were deleted and 35 were revised and underwent a second round of cognitive interviews. A total of 293 items were retained for field testing. Results Children as young as 8 years of age were able to comprehend the majority of items, response options, directions, recall period, and identify problems with language that was difficult for them to understand. Cognitive interviews indicated issues with item comprehension on several items which led to alternative wording for these items. Conclusion Children ages 8–17 years were able to comprehend most item stems and response options in the present study. Field testing with the resulting items and response options is presently being conducted as part of the PROMIS Pediatric Item Bank development process.