A large total population study of childhood fresh water immersion accidents is reported. The study was undertaken in the City of Brisbane over the five-year period 1971 to 1975 inclusive, and 111 fresh water immersion accidents involving children were studied and analysed. The childhood fresh water immersion accident rate, including drowning and near-drownings, of 10-43 per year per 100,000 at risk (fatality rate of 5-17) is the highest reported. If an unsupervised child gets into difficulties in fresh water and loses consciousness he has a 50% chance of dying. The immersion accident rate has doubled over the last six years. Age-specific immersion accident rates have been calculated, and have revealed that, in the toddler group (12 months to 23 months), the fresh water immersion accident rate is 50-01 per 100,000 (fatality rate of 22-55). Rates for drowning and near-drowning accidents after a fresh water immersion, by site, age and outcome (survival versus fatality), are also presented for the first time. Swimming pools produce 6-20 immersion accidents per year per 100,000 children at risk, and the domestic family bath tub produces 1-78. Possible factors explaining the high incidence are discussed, and comparisons of drowning rates from other centres are made.