Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever constitute a substantial health burden on the population in Thailand. In this study, the impact of symptomatic dengue virus infection on the families of patients hospitalized at the Kamphaeng Phet Provincial Hospital with laboratory-confirmed dengue in 2001 was assessed, and the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost for fatal and non-fatal cases of dengue were calculated using population level data for Thailand. When we accounted for the direct cost of hospitalization, indirect costs due to loss of productivity, and the average number of persons infected per family, we observed a financial loss of approximately US$61 per family, which is more than the average monthly income in Thailand. The DALYs were calculated using select results from a family level survey, and resulted in an estimated 427 DALYs/million population in 2001. This figure is of the same order of magnitude as the impact of several diseases currently given priority in southeast Asia, such as the tropical cluster (trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocerciasis), malaria, meningitis, and hepatitis. These results indicate that dengue prevention, control, and research should be considered equally important as that of diseases currently given priority.