This article reviews the literature on the incidence and aetiology of burn injuries. Burn injuries are among the most serious injuries man can incur. Although prevention of burn injuries has been given a good deal of attention in the past, it has never been subjected to a systematic approach which could result in a thorough knowledge of the incidence and the major risk factors and risk groups. The methodological limitations of the studies carried out in this field are striking. For instance, none of the studies of risk factors has used a control population for comparison. No figures are available on the total number of burn injury patients in the Netherlands. Estimates are derived from the situation in other countries, which yields an incidence of four per 1000 per year. Scalds are relatively common in the 0-4-year category. This is usually assumed to be caused by the stage of development of motor and cognitive skills, coupled with incorrect assumptions about these skills by parents. Men are found to be more often the victims of burns than women. Coffee and tea are assumed to be risk factors. The supposed risk factors and risk groups need to be investigated in a controlled epidemiological study, in order to allow establishment of preventive measures.