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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major viral cause of severe respiratory infections in children younger than 2 years of age. Nevertheless there are not enough epidemiologic data about the role of RSV as a cause of infantile mortality from pneumonia, mainly in young children from developing countries Aim.To determine the frequency of RSV infection in lung tissue samples from Mexican children deceased with pneumonia, by reverse transcription (RT) and PCR.Postmortem lung tissue samples from 98 children younger than 2 years of age who died of pneumonia during the period of 1989 to 1997 were studied. Paraffin was removed with xylene from 10-μm lung sections, the total RNA was extracted and complementary DNA was obtained by RT reaction. A nested PCR with the use of oligonucleotides specific for the F glycoprotein gene was developed. Samples negatives for RSV were tested for the absence of polymerase inhibitors and for complementary DNA integrity.Twenty-nine of the 98 (30%) children deceased with pneumonia were positive for RSV by RT-PCR; 8 were detected from 13 (62%) children with histopathologic diagnosis of viral pneumonia and 21 from 85 (25%) children with histopathologic diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia (P = 0.018 ). There was no significant difference in RSV infection according to age groups or seasonal pattern.RSV infection is frequent in Mexican children younger than 2 years of age who died of pneumonia. Although RSV was more common in viral pneumonia, mixed infections with RSV and bacterial pneumonia were also common.