An exploratory trial of the efficacy of indoor spraying with malathion on morbidity and mortality in refugee camps in eastern Sudan was conducted during the rainy season of 1997. The interior walls of houses from a randomly selected group of five camps were sprayed with malathion in mid-September and morbidity and mortality rates in the camps for the months October to December compared with rates in five controls. Pyrethrum spray collection and human landing catches were performed in two collection rounds. An exophagic but endophilic population of Anopheles arabiensis was the most common mosquito collected. The mean human blood index of 242 mosquitoes from eight camps was 0.51. Only two of 1040 mosquitoes examined harboured sporozoites. Blood samples of 83 putative malaria patients were examined for parasites by PCR. Mortality rates in the 3 months following spraying were significantly lower in sprayed camps although differences in clinical malaria incidence between sprayed and non-sprayed camps were not significant.