A retrospective study was made of 44 elderly patients with bacteraemia treated in the period 1974-1980. Positive blood cultures in 5 cases were considered clinically insignificant. Twenty-six of the remaining 39 patients were found to have a Gram-negative bacteraemia, mainly associated with urinary tract infection. Abnormalities of liver function were common but 5 jaundiced patients with Gram-negative infection were shown to have stones in the common bile duct. The value of blood cultures as a diagnostic aid in the non-specifically ill elderly patient is emphasized.