A hospital-based systematic sample of 1667 children with severe diarrhoeal disease was studied in Mogadishu, Somalia, throughout 1983 and 1984. One or more enteric pathogens were found in 61% of the patients. Rotavirus (25%), enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (11%), Shigella spp. (9%), Aeromonas hydrophila (9%), Giardia lamblia trophozoites (8%), Campylobacter jejuni (8%), and Vibrio cholerae non-O1 (6%) were the most frequently identified pathogens. Age-specific detection rates of enteric pathogens and helminths, seasonal patterns, and relationship of some specific infections with feeding status and main clinical features have been defined for all the sample examined.