The epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory aspects of group A streptococcal bacteremia were studied in 33 patients seen at two urban hospitals in the Tel Aviv (Israel) area, over an 8-year period. Most patients (two-thirds) were female. Clinically significant bacteremia was observed in 26 patients, two of whom acquired their infection (puerperal sepsis) during hospitalization. A portal of entry, mainly cutaneous, was recognized in 61% of the patients, and a chronic underlying condition was observed in 69%. The case-fatality rate was 27%, with death occurring predominantly in patients admitted with shock or cryptogenic bacteremia. Our clinical experience and literature review show that the presentation of group A streptococcal bacteremia is diverse, with transient bacteremia of uncertain clinical significance on one end of the spectrum and overwhelming sepsis on the other. A practical classification of the various clinical forms of group A streptococcal bacteremia is proposed.