Admission records from two paediatric units in The Gambia were used to explore the relationship between admission weight and different diseases. In total 13579 hospitalized children were analysed. For comparison, 7399 children were recruited from several surveys of well subjects to provide anthropometric values for healthy Gambian children. Compared to the control children, mean admission weights were lower for malaria (weight for age z-score: -1.602), cerebral malaria (-1.547), transfused malarial anaemia (-1.764), pneumonia (-1.725), meningitis (-1.362), gastro-enteritis (-2.497) and malnutrition (-3.786). Children with bronchiolitis did not have a significantly different weight for age than the controls. Outcome of the hospital admission was recorded and related to the weight on admission. In all disease categories the death rate rose with decreasing admission weight with the exception of bronchiolitis. For all diseases taken together, case fatality was 7.2% for children with a weight for age z-score above -2 Standard Deviations (SD), 9.3% between -2 and -3 SD, 15.6% between -3 and -4 SD and 22.7% for children with weight for age SD z-scores less than -4. Malnourished children are more susceptible to several infectious diseases frequently seen in developing countries and nutritional interventions, as well as standard treatment, may improve outcome.