To identify predictive factors and mortality of patients with influenza admitted to intensive care units (ICU) we carried out a prospective cohort study of patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza in adult ICUs in a network of Canadian hospitals between 2006 and 2012. There were 626 influenza-positive patients admitted to ICUs over the six influenza seasons, representing 17·9% of hospitalized influenza patients, 3·1/10 000 hospital admissions. Variability occurred in admission rate and proportion of hospital influenza patients who were admitted to ICUs (proportion range by year: 11·7–29·4%; 21·3% in the 2009–2010 pandemic). In logistic regression models ICU patients were younger during the pandemic and post-pandemic period, and more likely to be obese than hospital non-ICU patients. Influenza B accounted for 14·2% of all ICU cases and had a similar ICU admission rate as influenza A. Influenza-related mortality was 17·8% in ICU patients compared to 2·0% in non-ICU patients.