The epidemiology of burns and smoke inhalation in secondary care, for the population (1.6 million) of the four U.K. health authorities of Lancashire and South Cumbria is presented. Using health authority data from 1997 to 1999, it was found that 925 patients were admitted to hospital with either a primary diagnosis of burns or a primary diagnosis of smoke inhalation, in which 66% were male and 34% were female. The overall rate of admission was 0.29 per thousand. Highest rates were observed in children under the age of 5 and the elderly over the age of 75. Regression analysis confirmed an increase in admissions with increasing social deprivation.Mortality rates were shown to be highest in the over 75s. Rates of admitted burns in this study are higher than those reported from southern England. Paediatric and elderly injuries have been highlighted as high incidence groups. The epidemiology described here should assist in formulating strategies for prevention and the planning of further research.