The KEMRI/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) is located in Rarieda, Siaya and Gem Districts (Siaya County), lying northeast of Lake Victoria in Nyanza Province, western Kenya. The KEMRI/CDC HDSS, with approximately 220 000 inhabitants, has been the foundation for a variety of studies, including evaluations of insecticide-treated bed nets, burden of diarrhoeal disease and tuberculosis, malaria parasitaemia and anaemia, treatment strategies and immunological correlates of malaria infection, and numerous HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and diarrhoeal disease treatment and vaccine efficacy and effectiveness trials for more than a decade. Current studies include operations research to measure the uptake and effectiveness of the programmatic implementation of integrated malaria control strategies, HIV services, newly introduced vaccines and clinical trials. The HDSS provides general demographic and health information (such as population age structure and density, fertility rates, birth and death rates, in- and out-migrations, patterns of health care access and utilization and the local economics of health care) as well as disease- or intervention-specific information. The HDSS also collects verbal autopsy information on all deaths. Studies take advantage of the sampling frame inherent in the HDSS, whether at individual, household/compound or neighbourhood level.