The influence of some household and maternal variables on 3 anthropometric nutritional status indices of hospitalized children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are examined. On admission, only 30% of these children can be classified as being of a normal overall nutritional status. There are no significant differences in weight-for-age of hospitalized children between those residing in Addis Ababa and those residing in the rural areas. Income and father's occupation appear to be the major household factors influencing the level of 2 of the 3 indices (weight-for-age and weight-for-height). Length of last closed birth interval and, to a lesser degree, maternal age appear to have significant effects on all 3 nutritional status indices. Upon admission to hospital, children who will in the end survive their hospital stay are on average nutritionally normal or in a mild state of malnutrition, whereas children who will die during their stay arrive in a moderate or severe state of malnutrition. The degree of malnutrition is positively related to the risk of mortality in respiratory disease patients. (Author's).