Malaria remains one of the chief causes of mortality among young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Verbal autopsies for cases of childhood mortality in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania demonstrated that degedege, a locally defined illness of children characterized by fever and convulsions, is frequently treated by traditional healers. To investigate this further, an ethnographic study was carried out in one village that included in-depth interviews with 14 traditional healers and 3 focus groups with parents. Parents and traditional healers were unanimous in their conviction that degedege requires traditional treatments, at least initially, and that these treatments are effective. While traditional healers do refer cases that are not improving to the District Hospital, this frequently occurs late in the course of the illness, after one or more stages of traditional treatments. The prognosis will thus be poor for those children who are suffering from severe malaria. Consideration should be given to enlisting the support of traditional healers in efforts to improve treatment for severe malaria, including teaching them how to distinguish febrile convulsions from cases of severe malaria.