The frequency of infection at the time of admission with upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage has been determined in 149 successive cirrhotic patients admitted to an intensive care unit. Infection status was investigated by clinical examination, chest X-ray, and blood, urine and ascitic fluid culture. At initial examination infection was present in 32 patients (22 per cent) and was often in the form of septicaemia or spontaneous peritonitis; the bacteria responsible were frequently digestive in origin. At endoscopy, acute lesions of gastroduodenal mucosa were more frequent among infected patients, whereas gastro-oesophageal varices and chronic gastroduodenal ulcers were more frequent among the non-infected patients. Acute mucosal lesions were observed in 70 per cent of infected patients and in 19 per cent of non-infected patients. The mortality rate was higher in infected patients. Infection and the frequency of acute mucosal lesions were related to the severity of the cirrhosis. It is suggested that these lesions could be due to stress secondary to infection.