One hundred and twenty consecutive episodes of nosocomial pneumonia (NP) in 118 nonneutropenic adults admitted to a 1,000-bed teaching hospital were studied in order to investigate the prognosis and risk factors. The overall fatality rate was 36.6 percent. The identification of a "high-risk" microorganism (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacteriaceae, and other Gram-negative bacilli, Streptococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida sp, Aspergillus sp, and episodes of polymicrobial pneumonia), bilateral involvement on chest x-ray examination, the presence of respiratory failure, inappropriate antibiotic therapy, and age older than 60 years or an underlying condition ultimately or rapidly fatal were those factors selected by a stepforward logistic regression analysis as independently worsening the prognosis. A series of variables frequently quoted as predisposing to NP was determined to be either present or absent in the same 120 cases of NP and in an equal number of randomly selected control subjects. After adjusting for confounding, factors significantly predisposing to NP were tracheal intubation, depressed level of consciousness, underlying chronic lung disease, thoracic or upper abdominal surgery, prior episode of a large volume aspiration, and age older than 70 years. Since some of the factors influencing the risk or the prognosis of NP are amenable to medical intervention, a percentage of NP might be prevented and its prognosis can be improved.