A prospective one-year study of community pneumonia was conducted in Nottingham. 236 of 251 episodes of pneumonia (defined as an acute lower respiratory tract infection, for which antibiotics were prescribed, associated with new focal signs on examination of the chest) were investigated. Acute radiographic changes were present in 93 (39%). A pathogen was identified in 129 (55%) episodes, with Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and influenza viruses those most frequently identified. Mycoplasma pneumoniae was uncommon and infection with Legionella pneumophila was found in only 1 episode. Hospital admission was required in 52 (22%) episodes. 7 patients died (3%), all but one of the deaths occurring in patients who had been admitted to hospital. Pneumonia in the community is common but few people die of it. Initial antibiotic therapy should always cover S pneumoniae and H influenzae.