BACKGROUND: Bronchitis obliterans is a severe and extremely rare complication of respiratory tract infections in children and is characterized by massive atelectasis and collapse of the affected lung. Of the rare cases reported in the literature all surviving children underwent surgical resection of the collapsed lung. CASE PRESENTATION: We report an infant with bronchitis obliterans that was treated conservatively. 5 years after the initial event, partial lung re-expansion was documented. CONCLUSION: This case therefore supports a conservative treatment whenever possible with pneumonectomy only as a last treatment option.