Bacterial meningitis is an important problem in childhood. Vaccines can prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b disease and are being developed for infections caused by meningococci and pneumococci. Lumbar puncture is an important part of the diagnostic workup although care is required with its use. Once meningitis is diagnosed, antibiotic treatment should be started forthwith, even before hospital admission. Third-generation cephalosporins are the treatment of choice in children over 3 months of age. Increases in antibiotic resistance, especially among pneumococci, are of concern. The next few years should see major advances in the immunoprophylaxis of these serious infections.