This is a retrospective study analysing 5264 patients treated in the burn centre at Gülhane Military Medical Academy from 1 January 1986 to 31 December 1995. Our burn centre is not only the first, but one of the best established and supported in Turkey. Our present study has the largest patient group of other previously published studies from Turkey. Of the total patients studied, 4464 patients had minor burns and were treated on an outpatient basis and 800 patients had moderate to major burns. Although our centre is in a military area in Ankara, only 1047 (20 per cent) patients were military personnel and the military-related burn causes comprised only 6 per cent of the total. The remaining 4217 (80 per cent of the total patients) were civilians. Flame injuries were also more frequent in military patients than civilians. Minor burns were most common in the age group 0-10 years old (40 per cent) and moderate to major burns in the age group 21-30 years (54 per cent). Scalds were the main cause of paediatric burns. Male patients were dominant. The overall mortality among inpatients was 18.2 per cent and mean total body surface area (TBSA) was 57.6 per cent in patients who died. 134 patients demonstrated inhalation injury and 82 per cent of these patients died. The epidemiological pattern of our patients is similar to that in other studies from developed countries, although some ethnic causative factors could be found. Our study indicates that emergency measures should be taken to prevent flame injuries at military barracks and industrial workplaces and scalding accidents to children at home and throughout the country.