Admissions to hospital of 171 children with sickle-cell anaemia, genotype Hb SS, were reviewed over a 20-year period. Altogether 887 admissions occurred in 797 patient-years. The commonest cause of admission was painful vaso-occlusive crisis. Appreciable morbidity also resulted from pulmonary disease, infection, and anaemic episodes. The complications resulting in the most severe illness were acute splenic sequestration, pneumococcal meningitis, and some episodes of erythroid hypoplasia resulting in very low haemoglobin concentrations. Most deaths occurred in children aged under 5. Mortality and morbidity could be reduced by measures including prophylaxis of pneumococcal infections and more active treatment of seemingly minor illness in children with sickle-cell anaemia.