This study was designed to examine the relationship between syntactic awareness and reading performance. A major concern was to provide an estimate of the effect of syntactic training that was not confounded with training that focused on semantic features of words. The training exercises used in the study focused on all levels of syntactic awareness in order that the effect of such training could be assessed on students’ performance on tasks that tapped each of the levels. Results of this study showed that syntactic awareness could be improved through training. The effect was stable, being apparent at the two post-test times. However, no evidence was found for a systematic effect of improved syntactic awareness on reading ability. Moreover, syntactic training did not show any greater effect than no treatment or semantic training on children’s grammatic comprehension, their ability to use fix-up strategies, or on their general reading ability score. Training had a different impact on the accuracy of oral reading for the syntactic and semantic training groups. Thus, in terms of the developmental sequence of syntactic awareness proposed by Gombert (1992), children trained in the cloze procedure improved at the two highest levels, whilst showing neither a corresponding change in the lower levels of awareness, nor improved functional reading performance. United Kingdom Reading Association 1998.