Predisposing conditions for acute bacterial meningitis include prematurity, young age, management in an intensive care setting, low socioeconomic background, and crowded living conditions. Clinical findings vary with age and may be nonspecific (altered feeding behavior) or specific (Kernig and Brudzinski signs). Examination and culture of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are essential for diagnosis. Antigen identification in CSF, serum, or urine by latex agglutination or other techniques can be useful in the identification of the pathogen. Randomized, controlled studies with a single-, double-, or evaluator-blinded design are encouraged. Among neonates, infants, and children, CSF should be examined again 24-36 hours after initiation of therapy. Outcomes should be judged by both clinical and microbiological criteria. Assessment of microbiological outcome is paramount. © 1992 Oxford University Press.