Although many studies have reviewed burn wound infections (BWIs) in burn patients, few have prospectively surveyed other nosocomial infections. Seriously burned patients are clearly at increased risk for infection due to the nature of the burn injury itself, immunocompromising effects of burn injury, prolonged hospital stays, and invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Over 6 months, we prospectively reviewed all patients admitted to our burn intensive care unit (BICU) for nosocomial infections. We used standard CDC definitions of nosocomial infections (NIs). Because we had previously documented a high incidence of nosocomial pneumonias in these patients, we were particularly interested in determining risk factors for nosocomial pneumonia. The total census during the study period was 57. There were 40 discharges and deaths. Surveillance demonstrated 36 nosocomial infections in 26 patients, for a total of 90 nosocomial infections per 100 discharges and deaths, or 32.3 NIs/1000 patient days. Infections included 22 pneumonias, 10 urinary tract infections, two bacteraemias, one BWI and one episode of cellulitis. Intubation was strongly associated with nosocomial infection, particularly with pneumonia, BWI and bacteraemia. Sixty per cent of all patients were intubated at some time during their BICU stay, but 88 per cent of those who developed a nosocomial infection were intubated (P < 0.001). Inhalation injury was less significant than intubation in the development of nosocomial infection. All patients who developed pneumonia or a BWI were intubated. One-half of nosocomial infections were attributed to gram-positive cocci (GPC) and 13 per cent to fungi (Candida albicans), consistent with reports from burn units and other intensive care unit settings of increasing incidence of nosocomial infections due to these types of organisms.