BACKGROUND: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used historically in the treatment of cerebral palsy (CP). We investigated the efficacy of acupuncture in improving the motor function of children with CP. METHODS: A randomised control trial was conducted to assess the effect of tongue acupuncture (TAC) in 33 CP children. The subjects were randomised to treatment (n = 22) with TAC or control (n = 11). Clinical outcome was evaluated using the gross motor function measure (GMFM) and the pediatric evaluation of disability inventory (PEDI). RESULTS: The increase in mean GMFM score was significantly greater in the treatment than in the control group (p = 0.042). CONCLUSION: An improvement in motor function of CP subjects is seen following a short course of acupuncture.