We studied the epidemiology of varicella (chickenpox) and herpes zoster (shingles) in The Netherlands to assess the desirability to implement routine varicella zoster virus vaccination in The Netherlands. Data on seroprevalence of varicella zoster virus in the general population (1995-1996), consultations of general practitioners for varicella (2000-2002) and herpes zoster (1998-2001) and hospital admissions due to varicella (1994-2001) and herpes zoster (1994-2001) in The Netherlands were analysed. The seropositivity increased sharply with age from 18.4% for both 0- and 1-year-olds, to 48.9%, 59.0%, 75.7% and 93.0% for 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, respectively, and varied between 97.5% and 100% for older age groups. The average annual incidence of GP-consultations amounted to 253.5 and 325.0 per 100,000 for varicella and herpes zoster, respectively. The incidence of hospital admission due to varicella and herpes zoster was 1.3 (2.3 including side diagnosis) and 2.7 (5.8) per 100,000, respectively. Whilst for varicella, the incidence of GP-consultations and hospital admissions were highest in childhood, for herpes zoster, these were highest in elderly. Insight into epidemiology of varicella zoster is needed for the assessment of the desirability of introduction of routine varicella zoster vaccination.