An understanding of the epidemiological trend in hospital admissions, including morbidity and mortality patterns and the economic impact, is critical for healthcare planning and appropriate resource allocation. Data were collected on all admissions to the paediatric unit of the University Hospital of the West Indies during the period 1999. Each observation included demographic data, admission and discharge data and billed cost of care. There were 1350 admissions (570 female and 715 male, p < 0.001). Admissions "lows" were observed in February, April and July; minor peaks in March and June and the major peaks between October and January coincided with admissions due primarily to respiratory conditions. The evening shift was generally the busiest, with the night shift having the lowest average number of admissions in any one-week period Occupancy was uniformly high between November and April, with minor lows in May and August/September. The total cost for a typical patient was J$9708 per admission and the total daily cost for a typical patient was J$1823 (US$1 = J$39 in 1999). The findings could assist with resource allocation and rationalization of health services.