The burden of disease attributable to childhood rotavirus infection in Finland was assessed from data on hospital admissions for acute gastroenteritis and from reported virological diagnoses of rotavirus from 1985 to 1995. The mean number of hospitalizations (3584 annually in children under 5 y of age) corresponded to approximately 5.6% of the birth cohort. Rotavirus was estimated to be responsible for 54% of cases; accordingly, 3% of all children in Finland are hospitalized for rotavirus diarrhoea. The monthly distribution of hospitalizations for acute diarrhoea showed a similar pattern as monthly diagnoses of rotavirus, with a long epidemic period starting as early as November or December and lasting until June or even July. The prevalent rotavirus G-type throughout the study period was G1, which was detected in over 60% of the cases; however, in the season 1988-89 G4 was the prominent type. Improved case management has led to a shorter duration of hospital stay (3.3 d in 1985 vs. 2.3 d in 1995), but otherwise these was no significant trend for rotavirus gastroenteritis over the years. These findings underscore the need to control rotavirus gastroenteritis with a specific intervention, notably rotavirus vaccination.