The introduction of a specific International Classification of Diseases code for rotavirus diarrhea in 1992 prompted examination of the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) for trends in rotavirus-associated hospitalizations among US children aged 1 month through 4 years. During 1993-1995, 13.5% of hospitalizations were associated with diarrhea (n = 162,478/year). Rotavirus was the most common pathogen identified, coded in 16.5% of diarrhea cases (n = 26,798/year), and increased from 13.3% in 1993 to 18.9% in 1995. The age distribution and seasonality of hospitalizations of presumed noninfectious and viral etiology resembled those associated with rotavirus. Rotavirus was reported as a cause of diarrhea more frequently by hospitals that were large (> or =100 beds), proprietary-owned, or in the West/Midwest. Although these findings suggest incomplete detection of rotavirus diarrhea cases, the large number of rotavirus-associated hospitalizations underscores the need for vaccines and indicates that NHDS data could be used to monitor the impact of a US rotavirus immunization program.