Dengue presents a wide clinical spectrum of signs and symptoms, with characteristics of the host potentially influencing the disease evolution. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of gender and age on dengue clinical outcomes in a recent outbreak situation in Brazil, applying a cross-sectional design and including 6703 dengue cases with laboratory confirmation, occurring in Vitória, Espírito Santo State, Brazil, between 2007 and 2013. Data were obtained from the Information System for Notifiable Diseases. Overall, 11·3% of the sample presented with severe dengue, which affected 13·0% of males, 10·0% of females, 8·8% of children, 12·5% of adolescents, 10·5% of adults and 15·5% of the elderly. Age was higher in the severe dengue group (P = 0·03). Severe dengue was associated with males and the elderly (P < 0·01); however, considering only severe cases, children presented haemorrhage and plasma leakage more frequently than older age groups. The results emphasize the importance of a differentiated protocol for management of dengue cases, taking into consideration host factors like age. These findings also suggest the elderly and children as priority groups for immunization in a future implementation of a vaccine.