Injuries in childhood represent a major public health concern. North and West Belfast is an area in which a high rate of emergency department attendance due to injury has been observed, and in which social deprivation is widespread. We carried out a cross sectional survey of 479 injuries in children aged 0-12 years presenting to four emergency departments serving North and West Belfast. Injury rates were compared between the most deprived and least deprived areas, selected on the basis of Noble Economic Deprivation scores. A significant correlation between economic deprivation and injury rate was demonstrated (r = 2.14, p < or = 0.001). Children living within the most deprived areas were particularly likely to be involved in road traffic accidents (relative risk RR = 3.25, p = 0.002). We conclude that children living within the most deprived areas of North and West Belfast are at greater risk of injury than those in less deprived areas. Specific causes of injury, for example burns and scalds, high falls, and motor vehicle accidents are particularly associated with deprivation. Targeting should be taken into account when injury prevention strategies are being developed.