Descending necrotizing mediastinitis (DNM) is an uncommon disease that can cause significant morbidity and mortality. Herein, we report a 17-month-old girl of DNM with an initial normal chest radiograph followed by rapid clinical deterioration during a period of 4 days, from deep neck infection to mediastinitis and then complicated empyema. She was managed successfully with intravenous antibiotics and surgical debridement by video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and cervical drainage. Early recognition and meticulous intensive care of patients with DNM are important to minimize morbidity and mortality. VATS is an effective and minimally invasive therapeutic strategy in children with DNM. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2016;51:E17–E20. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.