To determine the aetiology of pneumonia in 83 children admitted to Goroka Hospital, Papua New Guinea, lung aspirates and blood were cultured for bacteria. Haemophilus infuenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or both, were isolated from 43 (52%) of the children, other bacteria from 8 (10%), and no bacteria from 32 (39%). Of the 32 strains of H influenzae tested, 18 (56%) were non-serotypable, 8 (25%) were serotypes other than type b, and only 6 (19%) were type b. Viruses were isolated from lung or nasopharyngeal aspirates from 18 (29%) of the 62 children for whom viral cultures were done. It seems that, although viruses may initiate infection, death from pneumonia in children in developing countries is often due to H influenzae, S pneumoniae, or both. Antibiotic therapy would prevent many of these deaths. There is an urgent need for vaccines, effective in children less than 6 months old, that protect against all strains of H influenzae, and S pneumoniae.