The incidence, phenotypic characteristics and antimicrobial resistance patterns of 193 Shigella strains isolated from 2489 hospitalized children with acute diarrhoea were studied during January 2001 to August 2004. S. flexneri (60%) was the most prevalent serogroup, followed by S. sonnei (23·8%), S. dysenteriae (9·8%) and S. boydii (5·7%). Since 2002, S. flexneri 2a was the most dominant serotype. Almost all S. flexneri strains exhibited resistance to ampicillin, co-trimoxazole, tetracycline, nalidixic acid and fluoroquinolones. After a lapse of almost 14 years, S. dysenteriae type 1 strains reemerged for the first time during 2002 and these strains were resistant to more than two antibiotics (multidrug resistance), including fluoroquinolones. An upsurge of similar resistance patterns was also noted among S. flexneri type 2a since December 2003. Resistance to fluoroquinolone increased year on year among S. dysenteriae type 1 and S. flexneri, but not in S. boydii or S. sonnei. Monitoring of antimicrobial susceptibility through a surveillance programme is recommended to select appropriate antibiotics for the effective treatment of shigellosis in this region.