Epidemiology, surveillance and research New Zealand has a high quality surveillance system for meningococcal disease that successfully integrates notification and laboratory data. Since 1991, New Zealand has had elevated incidence rates of meningococcal disease rising to 6.2 per 100,000 population in 1994. This represents a rate that is four times that recorded in 1989/90. Serogroup B infection predominates and international experience suggests that these elevated rates may continue for 5 to 15 years. Rates of meningococcal disease in Maori and Pacific Islands populations were three times higher than in Europeans at 10.0 and 12.3 per 100,000 respectively in 1994. The rates were particularly high for infants with the rate in Maori infants under 1 year reaching 120 per 100,000. The case fatality rate at 5.3% for 1994 would appear to be relatively low by international standards. Case control studies could be used to investigate potentially modifiable primary risk factors for disease. Intensive case review studies to investigate the role of such factors as preadmission antibiotics in reducing severe outcomes may be of benefit. The Ministry of Health or research funding organisations should consider the potential value of such studies in more detail.