We conducted a retrospective analysis of 37 children with Escherichia coli O157:H7-associated hemolytic-uremic syndrome. The infection was traced to contaminated hamburgers at a fast-food restaurant chain. Within 5 days of the first confirmed case, the Washington State Department of Health identified the source and interrupted transmission of infection. Ninety-five percent of the children initially had severe hemorrhagic colitis. Nineteen patients (51%) had significant extrarenal abnormalities, including pancreatitis, colonic necrosis, glucose intolerance, coma, stroke, seizures, myocardial dysfunction, pericardial effusions, adult respiratory disease syndrome, and pleural effusions. Three deaths occurred, each in children with severe multisystem disease. At follow-up two children have significant impairment of renal function (glomerular filtration rate < 80 ml/min/per 1.73 Hm2); both of these children have a normal serum creatinine concentration. Hemolytic-uremic syndrome is the most common cause of acute renal failure in children, and this experience emphasizes the systemic nature of this disease. Clinicians should anticipate that multisystem involvement may occur in these patients, necessitating acute intervention or chronic follow-up. This outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome also highlights the microbiologic hazards of inadequately prepared food and emphasizes the importance of public health intervention in controllinghHemolytic-uremic syndrome. (J PEDIATR 1994;125:519-26).