Recent reports highlight a new clinical syndrome in children related to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)1-multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)-which comprises multiorgan dysfunction and systemic inflammation2-13. We performed peripheral leukocyte phenotyping in 25 children with MIS-C, in the acute (n = 23; worst illness within 72 h of admission), resolution (n = 14; clinical improvement) and convalescent (n = 10; first outpatient visit) phases of the illness and used samples from seven age-matched healthy controls for comparisons. Among the MIS-C cohort, 17 (68%) children were SARS-CoV-2 seropositive, suggesting previous SARS-CoV-2 infections14,15, and these children had more severe disease. In the acute phase of MIS-C, we observed high levels of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-17, interferon-γ and differential T and B cell subset lymphopenia. High CD64 expression on neutrophils and monocytes, and high HLA-DR expression on γδ and CD4+CCR7+ T cells in the acute phase, suggested that these immune cell populations were activated. Antigen-presenting cells had low HLA-DR and CD86 expression, potentially indicative of impaired antigen presentation. These features normalized over the resolution and convalescence phases. Overall, MIS-C presents as an immunopathogenic illness1 and appears distinct from Kawasaki disease.