The course of 177 consecutive patients with severe salicylate self-poisoning treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) during a period of 15 years is presented. On admission, cerebral depression was observed in 61% respiratory failure was present in 47%, acidosis in 36% and cardiovascular function was impaired in 14%. A mortality rate of 15% was observed, which was proportionally higher in patients more than 40 years old and in patients with delayed diagnosis. Twenty-seven patients died and an autopsy was performed on 26 patients. The main autopsy diagnosis was ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract in 46%, pulmonary oedema in 46%, cerebral oedema in 31% and cerebral haemorrhage in 23%.