Vaginal swabs were examined for sexually transmissible organisms in 238 girls seen over a 36 month period from July 1989 to June 1992 inclusive. Three groups were seen (age range 1.5-16.1 years), 165 in group 1 in whom there had been a disclosure of sexual abuse, 35 in group 2 where there was a strong suspicion of sexual abuse, and 38 with vulvovaginitis who formed group 3. The isolation of recognised sexually transmitted organisms was low; however, of group 1 19% were colonised with Gardnerella vaginalis compared with 3% of group 2 and 3% of group 3. These figures show significant differences in the proportion of children in each group isolating only from children over the age of 8 years and in five of the six girls with Candida spp there was concern about sexual abuse. Vulvovaginitis in young children was not associated with vaginal candidiasis. The relation of findings to age is discussed and recommendations are made for testing procedures.