His Disney roles included
- Johnny Butler/True Son in The Light in the Forest
- Rudi Matt in Third Man on the Mountain
- David Balfour in Kidnapped
- Fritz Robinson in Swiss Family Robinson
- Cpl. Henry Jenkins in the Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color episodes Willie and the Yank: The Deserter and Willie and the Yank: The Mosby Raiders
- himself in The Wonderful World of Disney: 40 Years of Television Magic and The Age of Believing: The Disney Live Action Classics
- the narrator for Swiss Family Robinson: Adventure in the Making.
He is the adopted son of actress Helen Hayes.
Upon his death, Disney historian Jeff Kurtti wrote this of James MacArthur - "In this loss of legacy, the earnest and remarkable performances of a young James MacArthur are inexcusably forgotten—as is the primary connection of this fine actor with the visionary who saw such potential in his nascent talent, Walt Disney."