The production of staphylococcal exfoliative toxin A (ETA) and toxin B (ETB), toxic shock syndrome toxin (TSST-1), and enterotoxins A-E was analyzed in 60 Staphylococcus aureus strains isolated from children with scalded skin syndrome (15 with generalized exfoliative syndrome, 28 with bullous impetigo, and 17 with staphylococcal scarlet fever). All strains isolated from patients with generalized exfoliative syndrome or bullous impetigo produced ETA and/or ETB and caused a Nikolsky's sign when injected subcutaneously into newborn mice. In contrast, exfoliative toxin was detected in an S. aureus strain from only one of 17 case of staphylococcal scarlet fever; the 16 other S. aureus strains produced TSST-1 and/or an enterotoxin. In conclusion, enterotoxins or TSST-1 are more frequently associated with staphylococcal scarlet fever than are exfoliative toxins. Hence staphylococcal scarlet fever may well represent an abortive form of toxic shock syndrome rather than a milder form of staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome.