A group of 168 families who lived in a peri-urban slum in Santiago were surveyed for 9 months. All of them had a child under 7 years of age. Medical activities and data collection were carried out at a Field Station and by means of twice-weekly visits to each home, at which time cases of diarrhoea were recorded and investigated. Faecal samples for bacteriological, parasitological and rotavirus studies were obtained during each episode. The characteristics of clinical course, hygienic practices in the family, and monthly anthropometric measurements of infants and toddlers were also recorded. The mean monthly incidence of diarrhoea was 7·1 episodes per 100 children. Of the episodes, 44·2% were associated with pathogenic bacteria, 14·4% with rotavirus, 38·4% with parasites and in 27·9% no enteropathogens were identified. It was found that adequate hygienic habits were not associated with a decreased risk of developing diarrhoea and that about 60% of children did not have diarrhoea throughout the study period. The nutritional status was adequate in most cases: weight-for-age was below the 5th percentile in 11·5% of subjects and the height-for-age was normal in all. No moderate or severe cases of malnutrition were detected.