Between late 1998 and 1999, the spread of a new disease of pigs, characterized by a pronounced respiratory and neurological syndrome, sometimes accompanied by the sudden death of sows and boars, was recorded in pig farms in peninsular Malaysia. The disease appeared to have a close association with an epidemic of viral encephalitis among workers on pig farms. A previously unrecognised paramyxovirus was later identified from this outbreak; this virus was related to, but distinct from, the Hendra virus discovered in Australia in 1994. The new virus was named 'Nipah' and was confirmed by molecular characterization to be the agent responsible for the disease in both humans and pigs. The name proposed for the new pig disease was 'porcine respiratory and neurological syndrome' (also known as 'porcine respiratory and encephalitis syndrome'), or, in peninsular Malaysia, 'barking pig syndrome'. The authors describe the new disease and provide the epidemiological findings recorded among infected pigs. In addition, the control programmes which were instituted to contain the virus in the national swine herd are outlined.