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To determine the current mortality rates for pediatric patients with septic shock and the frequency and outcome of associated multiple organ system failure.Retrospective chart review.Multidisciplinary pediatric intensive care unit.Children age 1 month to 21 yrs admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit from January 1, 1998, to December 31, 1999, with a diagnosis of septic shock.None.A database of all admissions to the pediatric intensive care unit was queried, and cases with diagnoses of sepsis and septic shock were reviewed. The final study cohort consisted of 96 episodes of septic shock in 80 patients. Septic shock was defined as a clinical suspicion of sepsis manifested by hyperthermia or hypothermia accompanied by hypotension and/or alteration in perfusion. Multiple organ system failure was defined by established criteria. Data were analyzed by using Fisher’s exact test. The overall mortality rate for the study cohort was 13.5%. There were differences in case mortality rates between patients requiring one inotropic agent (0%) and patients requiring multiple inotropic agents (42.9%), between oncology patients who had undergone bone marrow transplantation (38.5%) and oncology patients without bone marrow transplantation (5.5%), and between patients with multiple organ system failure (18.6%) and those without multiple organ system failure (0%); p < .05. There did not appear to be differences in the case mortality rates between oncology and nononcology patients or among patients with varying degrees of neutropenia.The mortality rate in pediatric septic shock is lower than has been previously reported. Oncologic illness in the absence of bone marrow transplantation does not appear to be associated with an increased mortality rate in children with septic shock. Bone marrow transplantation patients have an increased mortality rate compared with other patients with septic shock. Mortality from septic shock occurs most frequently in the context of multiple organ system failure.