During the period 1968–85 shigella organisms were isolated from stool specimens of 1562 patients attending Tygerberg Hospital, situated in the south-western province of the Cape of Good Hope of the Republic of South Africa. Shigella flexneri (72% of patients) was the commonest subgroup identified. Sh. sonnei was the second-commonest isolate (20%), with smaller number of Sh. boydii (5%) and Sh. dysenteriae (3%). Sh. dysenteriae has not been isolated since 1979. In 1985 30% of isolates were resistant to ampicillin and 52% to trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole. During this period 12 cases of shigellaemia were seen, 11 in young infants less than 13 months of age who were malnourished in 6 cases. The single adult had had a previous gastrectomy and splenectomy.