Trends in causative organisms and sources of infection were studied in a series of 288 episodes of bacteremia in neutropenic cancer patients observed in a single institution from 1986 to 1993. The incidence of bacteremia increased significantly from 20 episodes per 1000 admissions in 1986 to 50 episodes per 1000 admissions in 1993 (p = 0.00001). Over the study period, a continuous increment in gram-positive bacteremia, which reached 81% of episodes in 1993 (p = 0.000001), was observed. Conversely, the incidence of gram-negative bacteremia remained stable. Coagulase-negative staphylococci and viridans group streptococci were the most commonly isolated pathogens. Bacteremia caused by coagulase-negative staphylococci increased from 3 episodes per 1000 admissions to 19 episodes per 1000 admissions (p = 0.0001), and viridans group streptococci bacteremia increased from 0 episodes per 1000 admissions to 19 episodes per 1000 admissions (p = 0.000001). The upward trend in gram-positive bacteremia appeared to be related to a significant increase in both intravascular catheters (p = 0.003) and oral mucositis (p = 0.003) as sources of infection. Specific strategies to prevent chemotherapy-induced mucositis and catheter-related bacteremia merit further investigations.