The role of transthoracic echocardiography as a diagnostic tool in children suspected of having infective endocarditis (IE) has not been defined. We hypothesized that echocardiography is only useful in children in whom there is high clinical suspicion of IE based on physical examination findings or persistently positive blood cultures. Echocardiographic reports and medical records of all inpatients (n = 133) from 1990 to 1992 who underwent echocardiography for suspected IE were reviewed. Fifty-nine of the 133 patients (44%) identified had either persistently positive blood cultures (n = 48), physical examination findings of IE (n = 20), or both (n = 9). The echocardiogram was positive in 7 of these patients (12%) and negative in all 74 patients without positive physical findings or positive blood cultures (p = 0.003). A new or changing precordial murmur, embolic phenomena, congestive heart failure, mechanical ventilation, and positive blood cultures were predictive of positive echocardiograms for IE by univariate analysis. The presence of fever, immune deficiency, and central lines, alone or in combination, was not predictive of a positive echocardiogram. In the absence of physical findings or persistently positive blood cultures, echocardiography is a low-yield study and is unlikely to aid in the diagnosis of IE in children.