The authors analysed a subset of data from the New England Regional Burn Program (NERBP) to describe the epidemiology of burn injuries for children aged from birth to 19 years in the six-state New England area of the USA. The subset of the NERBP data analysed pertained to residents of the six New England states who were admitted to hospital for the treatment of a burn injury sustained between 1 July 1978 and 30 June 1979. Analysis of the data revealed that 1128 (41 per cent) of the 2742 hospitalized burns identified occurred to persons between the ages of birth and 19 years, yielding an overall burn incidence rate of 30.7 burns per 100,000 person-years. Children aged from birth to 2 years sustained a higher burn rate, 96.7 burns per 100,000 child-years, than did children in any other age category. The burn rate for males was higher than the rate for females in each age category, as were the rates for black children compared to white children. Children in Massachusetts experienced the highest overall burn rate among the six New England states; the lowest rate occurred in New Hampshire. Overall, 63 per cent of the burns occurred in a residential setting. The most common activities related to burn injury were food preparation and food consumption, which accounted for 471 (42 per cent) of the burn injuries.