A newly developed Western blot assay for antibody to hepatitis E virus (anti-HEV) was used to evaluate 39 cases of acute pediatric hepatitis and 39 control patients in Khartoum, Sudan. The mean age of cases was 6.5 years (range, 2-14); 64% were male. Acute hepatitis A (IgM anti-HAV-positive) was diagnosed in 13 cases, acute hepatitis B (IgM anti-HBc-positive) in 1, and acute hepatitis E (positive for IgM anti-HEV) in 23 (59%). None of the cases with IgM anti-HAV or IgM anti-HBc had IgM anti-HEV; 3 controls had IgM anti-HEV. Acute hepatitis E was associated with recent contact with a family member or acquaintance with jaundice and the presence of indoor plumbing. The newly developed hepatitis E assay appeared to be specific for the diagnosis of acute icteric non-A, non-B hepatitis. Hepatitis E was found to be the most common cause of acute sporadic hepatitis in children living in an urban area of Africa.