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Little is known about the specific psychosocial factors that influence quality of life in adolescents with newly diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We adapted a model by Garrett and Drossman to assess adolescent adjustment to recent-onset IBD. Thirty adolescent-parent pairs completed a set of standardized questionnaires. The inclusion criteria were adolescents 12-18 years of age with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis of <5 years' duration. Adolescents' health-related quality-of-life scores significantly correlated with satisfaction and degree of closeness with their social support members, such as parents. An unexpected finding was that the adolescents included more extended family than peers in their social support networks. Also of note was that parental coping styles rather than adolescent coping styles significantly correlated with adolescents' quality-of-life health scores. Severity of illness did not correlate with adolescent quality-of-life health scores. There was significant agreement between adolescent and parental quality-of-life health scores and stressful event ratings. Adolescents with recent-onset IBD rely more on family members than their peers for emotional support, and they depend more on their parents' coping skills than their own. These findings may indicate lags in normal adolescent development. Adolescents and parents do communicate and share concerns with each other. Support programs for adolescents with IBD should reinforce existing coping skills and parent-adolescent communication while promoting normative development.