The incidence of the sudden infant death syndrome parallels that of respiratory tract infections in the paediatric community. On the basis that the aetiology of the sudden infant death syndrome may lie in an unusual response to a trivial intercurrent respiratory infection a necropsy study was carried out investigating pulmonary immunoglobulins in 16 victims of the syndrome and a series of infants (control) who had died of non-pulmonary causes. Compared with the controls victims of the sudden infant death syndrome had grossly raised concentrations of IgG, IgM, and to a less extent IgA in lung lavage samples. In addition, pulmonary interstitial and terminal airways cells expressing these immunoglobulins were identified far more often in victims than controls. The study failed to determine whether the increased immunoglobulin concentrations were a consequence of an unusual response to a trivial infection or an expression of otherwise altered immunological control in the respiratory tract. Epidemiological evidence and the findings of this study suggest that the respiratory tract is the prime target organ in the sudden infant death syndrome.