The incidence of clinical attacks of malaria was significantly less in Gambian children aged 1–9 years who slept in villages where all the bed nets (mosquito nets) were treated with permethrin than in children who slept in control villages with placebo-treated nets. Significant differences in changes in spleen size and in packed cell volume were also observed between the 2 groups during the course of a rainy season. No side effect was noted. Treatment of bed nets with insecticide is a form of malaria control that is well suited to community participation and can readily be incorporated into primary health care programmes. Insecticide-treated nets may be more effective in areas of seasonal or low intensity transmission than in areas with heavy perennial challenge.