We studied the epidemiology, microbiology, clinical picture and outcome of community-acquired bloodstream infections (CABI) in children in southern Israel during 1992-2001. Information was collected prospectively by daily surveillance. CABI was diagnosed when a positive blood culture was reported in a patient discharged from the emergency room or during <48 h since admission if hospitalized. There were 1439 CABI episodes in 1396 children aged 1 month to 14 y. CABI incidence was 100/100,000 children with no increase during the study period. Risk of CABI was 3.8 times higher in a Bedouin than in a Jewish child. 1561 bacteria (793, 50%, Gram-positive and 768, 49% Gram-negative organisms, respectively) and 13 fungi were recovered. Most frequent Gram-positive organisms were Streptococcus pneumoniae (509 isolates, 32% of all isolates, 64% of all Gram-positive), Staphylococcus aureus (137, 9%, 17%) and Streptococcus pyogenes (46, 3%, 6%). Enterobacteriaceae spp. were the most frequent Gram-negative pathogens (279, 18%, 36%), followed by Brucella (205, 13%, 27%). S. pneumoniae was the most common pathogen in children <12 months and 1-5 y age; Brucella was the most frequent pathogen in children >5 y of age. Coverage of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugated vaccine for CABI was 38.5%. 38 (2.7%) patients died; 16 cases were caused by S. pneumoniae.