A total of 7,809 patients with meningitis or encephalitis were admitted to the Abbassia Fever Hospital in Cairo, Egypt from November 1, 1966 to April 30, 1989. The etiology was Neisseria meningitidis (mostly group A) in 27.3% of the patients, Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 19.7%, Streptococcus pneumoniae in 7.3%, and Haemophilus influenzae in 4.1%. Almost 27% of the cases had purulent meningitis but without detectable etiology; however, the epidemiologic data suggest that most of these had meningococcal meningitis. Encephalitis was suspected in 12.5% of the patients. Most of the meningococcal, pneumococcal, and Haemophilus cases occurred during the winter months. The number of meningococcal and culture-negative purulent cases per year reached a maximum three times during the 22.5 years of this study. There were more males than females in all etiologic groups, with the ratio for the total patient population being 1.6:1. The average age ranged between 11.7 and 16.5 years for all groups except for Haemophilus patients, who had a mean age of 2.5 years. The mortality rate was almost 55% for tuberculous patients and was approximately 40% for both pneumococcal and Haemophilus patients; it was 8.5% in patients with meningococcal disease.