Forty-seven children under the age of 5 years admitted for contact burns into the Burns Unit of the Birmingham Accident Hospital during the period 1981-88 were reviewed. Contact burns formed only 3.93 per cent of all the thermal injuries seen in this age group for the same period. Most of the children were between 1 and 2 years of age and the hands and face were more frequently burned. The hot electric iron was the commonest cause of burns in the study. Although the sizes of the burns were generally small, the potential scarring and disability were recognized and this influenced the management. The prevention of contact burns from hot electric irons has been discussed and the need to look out for non-accidental injuries emphasized.