Drug utilization was studied in children below 14 years of age in Tenerife, Canary Islands, who were seen as outpatients by 15 paediatricians and 10 general practitioners. Data on diagnosis, previous drug exposure and prescriptions were collected from a random sample of 1327 children. Nose and throat infections (40.1%), respiratory diseases (10.2%) and miscellaneous symptoms, namely common cold, influenza or nasal congestion (10.5%), were the most frequent reasons for visiting a physician. Antibiotics represented 28.5% of the prescriptions. The youngest group (0-2 years) received more drugs than the other two groups (2-6 and 6-14 years), and 8.4% of the children did not receive any drug. Only 358 (5.1%) of the 7,000 pharmaceutical specialities available were used, and the 10 most frequently prescribed drug products constituted more than 30% of all prescriptions. Combination drugs accounted for 42.4% of the prescribed items. Healthy children presenting only for check up were frequently treated with drugs.