All attendances at Waikato Hospital accident and emergency department since 1980 have been coded and stored in computer files. Fifty thousand children under age 15 years attended A&E between 1980 and 1986. Age-specific attendance rates were determined and major reasons for consultation examined. The attendance rate for illness was very high in infants with levels above 1200/10,000 for every year. This rate declined as children became older. Attendance rates for injury events were highest for infants (1601/10,000), with the 10-14 year olds second (1100/10,000). Age and ethnic group specific rates were determined and show a very high rate of attendance for Maori infants with 60% attending A&E in 1986. Respiratory illnesses form the major reason for consultation for illness, with the highest rate in children under five years. Thirty-two percent in the under one year group and 43% in the 1-4 year group came to A&E with respiratory illnesses. Injury involving falls or hitting an object are the major reasons for consultation in all age groups under 10 years. This involved 41% of all accidents in the under 1 year age group, 46% in 1-4 and 47% in the 5-9 age group. Sporting injuries dominated the 10-14 age group with 28% of all accidents being sports related. Road traffic injuries reflect the mobility of each age group with 7% of accidents in the under 1 group, rising to 14% for all children over 4 years. The implications of these patterns are discussed.