In 1999 a new conjugate vaccine for serogroup C meningococcal disease was licensed for use in the UK. In order for an appropriate vaccination strategy to be developed the burden of serogroup C disease in England and Wales needed to be established. This was done using data from an enhanced surveillance scheme alongside routine laboratory reports and a total of 5,052 cases of serogroup C disease in England and Wales between 1993 and 1998 were estimated. Among these, an estimated 398 died and 1,767 were admitted to intensive care units (ITUs). The greatest burden of disease was in young children and teenagers. The current literature identified four studies reporting sequelae following serogroup C meningococcal disease. These provided estimates of sequelae in the range of 6.5% and 45% and presented some evidence of higher levels than occur following serogroup B meningococcal disease. This information was provided to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to inform policy to implement a serogroup C conjugate vaccination programme in the UK. The vaccination programme has since been justified by the dramatic reduction in serogroup C meningococcal cases.