Sport-related heat illness has not been commonly studied from an epidemiological perspective. This study presents the descriptive epidemiology of sports/leisure-related heat illness hospitalisations in New South Wales, Australia. All in-patient separations from all acute hospitals in NSW during 2001-2004, with an International Classification of Diseases external cause of injury code indicating "exposure to excessive natural heat (X30)" or any ICD-10 diagnosis code in the range: "effects of heat and light (T67.0-T67.9)", were analysed. The sport/leisure relatedness of cases was defined by ICD-10-AM activity codes indicating involvement in sport/leisure activities. Cases of exposure to heat while engaged in sport/leisure were described by gender, year, age, principal diagnosis, type of activity/sport and length of stay. There were 109 hospital separations for exposure to heat while engaging in sport/leisure activity, with the majority occurring during the hottest months. The number of male cases significantly increased over the 4-year period and 45+ -year olds had the largest number of cases. Heat exhaustion was the leading cause of hospital separation (40% of cases). Marathon running, cricket and golf were the activities most commonly associated with heat-related hospitalisation. Ongoing development and refinement of expert position statements regarding heat illnesses need to draw on both epidemiological and physiological evidence to ensure their relevance to all levels of risk from the real world sport training and competition contexts.