The literature on schistosomiasis in Ethiopia is reviewed with the objective of bringing together in one paper diverse sources which may not be available to those interested in schistosomiasis. Particular attention is given to the influence of altitude and climate, snail ecology and government economic programs on the distribution of schistosomiasis. Out of 365 communities studied between 1961 and 1986 for Schistosomiasis mansoni, cases were reported from 225 (62%), and in 85 (23%) the prevalence ranged from 10 to 92%. Most transmission sites and S. mansoni infections are in agricultural communities along streams between 1300 and 2000 m altitude infested with Biomphalaria pfeifferi, the major snail intermediate host. S. mansoni transmission above 2200 m and below 800 m is precluded in many parts of Ethiopia by low and high water temperatures, respectively. Schistosomiasis haematobium cases have been reported from 30 of the 54 communities studied, 17 of them with infection rates between 14 and 75%. Endemic S. haematobium appears to be confined in its distribution to lowlands below 800 m altitude. The highly focal distribution of S. haematobium transmission is largely due to the nonsusceptibility of most bulinine snails to the Ethiopian strain of the parasite and low water temperatures in the highlands. Water resources development, resettlement programs, refugee migration and other population movements may result in the spread of endemic S. mansoni. Lack of information on snail host/parasite relationships and the ecology of proven and suspected snail hosts does not permit predictions on the spread of endemic S. haematobium. Past and present schistosomiasis control programs in Ethiopia are reviewed and recommendations made for the national control program.