Many mothers with children under age 6 are employed and it is not usually feasible for a parent to stay home with a child who is mildly ill. Such ill children likely remain in child day care programs. The extent to which this occurs and the management of these children in family day care was studied. Over the course of a year, 1 to 3 visits were made to 714 family day care homes in order to survey providers. With enrollments ranging between 0 and 18 children per day care home at the time of each visit, information on 3,630 "child enrollment days" was collected. The median age of children in care was 2 years. An average of 16% of all children were ill on any one day (with seasonal variation); 1% were injured. Of ill children, 82% attended day care that day, 49% had contacted a physician about that illness, and 28% were administered a medication at the day care setting. Twenty-one percent of children receiving medication in day care had no contact with a physician for that illness. These data show that mild childhood illnesses are routinely managed by child day care providers. Physicians who traditionally limit their illness-management education to parents need to recognize the health education and consultation needs of day care providers.