The clinical courses of 25 infants with systemic candidiasis who were treated in the neonatal intensive care unit at Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot, Israel, during the period 1980-1989 were retrospectively analyzed. Twenty-three (92%) weighted less than 1,500 g at birth. Candidemia was associated with prolonged antibiotic therapy, hyperalimentation, and intravenous fat emulsions in all cases and with previous tracheal intubation in 80% of cases. Only one infant had a central venous catheter placed; for all others, hyperalimentation was administered by means of peripheral intravenous catheters. The mean age at onset of systemic candidiasis was 30 +/- 14 days, although an earlier onset (25 +/- 8 days) was noted during the last 3 years of the study period. Candida species were isolated from the blood of 24 infants and from the urine of 10 infants. Microscopic examination of the urine was positive for Candida organisms for three infants and led to a rapid diagnosis. Candidal skin abscesses were present in 11 infants (44%); for two of these infants, the early occurrence of such abscesses prompted the initiation of therapy before confirmation of the diagnosis of systemic candidiasis. All infants were treated with intravenous amphotericin B and oral 5-fluorocytosine. The mortality rate was 20%, but death was directly attributable to candidemia in only three infants (12%).