This study investigated whether a robotic dog might aid in the social development of children with autism. Eleven children diagnosed with autism (ages 5-8) interacted with the robotic dog AIBO and, during a different period within the same experimental session, a simple mechanical toy dog (Kasha), which had no ability to detect or respond to its physical or social environment. Results showed that, in comparison to Kasha, the children spoke more words to AIBO, and more often engaged in three types of behavior with AIBO typical of children without autism: verbal engagement, reciprocal interaction, and authentic interaction. In addition, we found suggestive evidence (with p values ranging from .07 to .09) that the children interacted more with AIBO, and, while in the AIBO session, engaged in fewer autistic behaviors. Discussion focuses on why robotic animals might benefit children with autism.