In recent years there have been major socio-economic changes within Afghanistan such that the present public health burden of soil-transmitted helminths (STH), especially that within school-aged children, remains to be determined. A baseline parasitological survey was therefore carried out in four defined areas of Afghanistan to better assess the distribution, prevalence and intensity of STH infections prior to a nationwide de-worming campaign beginning within World Food Programme assisted schools. A cross-sectional examination of 1001 children aged between 8 and 15 years old revealed that approximately half (47.2%) were infected with at least one STH. Infections with Ascaris lumbricoides were most widespread (40.9%) and elevated prevalences were detected in urban environments; for example, schoolchildren in Kabul were more likely to be infected (OR=2.2, 95% CI 1.6–3.0) than elsewhere and these infections were often of higher intensity (OR=7.6, 95% CI 4.9–11.8). Trichuris trichiura (9.9%) and hookworms (0.7%), previously unknown from Afghanistan, were encountered. The blood haemoglobin concentration of surveyed children was also assessed: 4% resulted to be anaemic (Hb<11 g dl−1), and 0.4% to be severely anaemic (Hb<7 g dl−1).