Abstract Background Allogeneic red blood cell transfusion is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in adult trauma patients. Although studies have suggested that the adoption of a more restrictive transfusion strategy may be safely applied to critically ill adult and all-cause critically ill pediatric patients, recent developments in our understanding of the negative consequences of red blood cell transfusion have focused almost entirely on adult populations, while the applicability of these findings to the pediatric population remains poorly defined. The object of this study was to evaluate the effect of red blood cell transfusion within the first 24 hours following admission on mortality in pediatric trauma patients treated at our institution. Results Age, race, and mechanism of injury did not differ between transfused and non-transfused groups, although there were significantly more female patients in the transfusion group (51 vs. 37%; p < 0.01). Shock index (pulse/systolic blood pressure), injury severity score, and new injury severity score were all significantly higher in the transfused group (1.21 vs. 0.96, 26 vs. 10, and 33 vs. 13 respectively; all p ≤ 0.01). Patients who received a red blood cell transfusion experienced a higher mortality compared to the non-transfused group (29% vs. 3%; p < 0.001). When attempting to control for injury severity, goodness-of-fit analysis revealed a poor fit for the statistical model preventing reliable conclusions about the contribution of red blood cell transfusion as an independent predictor of mortality. Conclusion Red blood cell transfusion within the first 24 hours following admission is associated with an increase in mortality in pediatric trauma patients. The potential contribution of red blood cell transfusion as an independent predictor of hospital mortality could not be assessed from our single-institution trauma registry. A review of state-wide or national trauma databases may be necessary to obtain adequate statistical confidence.