This study was performed to investigate the etiologic agents, age distribution, clinical manifestations and seasonal occurrence of acute viral lower respiratory tract infections in children. We confirmed viral etiologies using nasopharyngeal aspirates in 237 patients of the ages of 15 years or younger who were hospitalized for acute lower respiratory tract infection (ALRI) from March 1996 to February 1998 at Samsung Seoul Hospital, Seoul, Korea. The overall isolation rate was 22.1%. The viral pathogens identified were adenovirus (12.7%), influenza virus type A (21.1%), -type B (13.9%), parainfluenza virus type 1 (13.5%), -type 2 (1.3%), -type 3 (16.0%) and respiratory syncytial virus (21.5%). The occurrence of ALRIs was highest in the first year of life, although parainfluenza virus type 1 infection occurred predominantly in the second year of life and influenza virus caused illnesses in all age groups. The specific viruses are frequently associated with specific clinical syndromes of ALRI. The respiratory agents and associated syndromes frequently have characteristic seasonal patterns. This study will help us to estimate the etiologic agents of ALRI, and establish a program for the prevention and treatment. An annual nationwide survey is necessary to understand the viral epidemiology associated with respiratory illnesses in Korea.