The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted a number of research projects which examined the need and concern for occupants of small cars. These projects include the demonstration of air bags in small cars at crash severities equal to or greater than the 30 mph test required by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 208. The results from these projects showing the protective capability of the air bag are reviewed. Factors influencing air bag performance such as amount of vehicle crush and the time available for air bag inflation are examined. Existing technology for providing air bag protection to occupants in small cars is discussed. The issue concerning the safety of out-of-position child passengers is addressed including a number of technical options for dealing with the out-of-position occupant.