Bacteremia is related to high morbidity and lethality. The present investigation was conducted to evaluate the variables associated with outcomes of bacteremia at a University Hospital in São Paulo, Brazil. Patients with bacteremia were identified through positive blood cultures performed at the microbiology laboratory between August 1985 and July 1986. Their charts were reviewed and the following variables were considered: age, sex, presence of underlying disease, where was the bacteremia acquired, source of infection, presence of shock and appropriateness of antimicrobial therapy. In the period of the study, there were 362 cases of bacteremia out of 16,636 admissions to the hospital. The lethality rate was 33.4%, six times higher than the mortality rate for non-bacteremic patients. Age greater than 40 years, presence of severe underlying disease, nosocomial acquisition, respiratory tract as the source of bacteremia, presence of shock and, being infected with Pseudomonas sp were significantly associated with fatal outcome. Appropriate antimicrobial therapy reduced the incidence of shock and improved survival of patients with bacteremia. This study provides information on outcome of patients with bacteremia at a University Hospital in Brazil and, settles the variables associated with poor outcome in these patients.