AIM: Children with refractory or high-risk malignancies frequently suffer from poor quality of life during palliative care. This study explored the effect of metronomic drug administration on survival and quality of life in paediatric patients with various refractory or high-risk tumours. METHODS: We treated 17 patients with a maintenance therapy that consisted of metronomic thalidomide, etoposide and celecoxib. The endpoints of the study were overall and progression-free survival, changes in the Karnofsky-Lansky scores from baseline to the end of the study therapy and radiological responses. RESULTS: The median overall survival after the start of the study therapy was 6.2 months (range 2.0-57.7), and the six-, 12- and 24-month survival rates were 59%, 18% and 18%, respectively. The median progression-free survival was 3.2 months (range 0.3-17.8). The Karnofsky-Lansky scores increased significantly during the study therapy (p = 0.02), with 35% of the patients having a transient improvement in their clinical status. Radiologically, one partial response and two disease stabilisations were encountered. Grade III-V adverse events occurred in 76% of the patients. CONCLUSION: Metronomic therapy may increase the quality of life during palliative care for childhood cancer, but requires careful patient selection to minimise the risk of serious adverse events.