Background: Bacterial meningitis remains an important infection globally, with the greatest burden in children in low-income settings, including Papua New Guinea (PNG). We present serotype, antimicrobial susceptibility and outcome data from paediatric meningitis patients prior to introduction of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) in PNG, providing a baseline for evaluation of immunisation programs. Methods: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was collected from children admitted to Goroka General Hospital with suspected meningitis between 1996 and 2005. Culture and sensitivity was conducted, and pneumococci and H. influenzae were serotyped. Laboratory findings were linked to clinical outcomes. Results: We enrolled 1884 children. A recognised pathogen was identified in 375 children (19.9 ). Streptococcus pneumoniae (n = 180) and Hib (n = 153) accounted for 88.8 of pathogens isolated. 24 different pneumococcal serogroups were identified; non-PCV types 2, 24 and 46 accounted for 31.6 of pneumococcal meningitis. 10- and 13-valent PCVs would cover 44.1 and 45.4 of pneumococcal meningitis respectively. Pneumococcal isolates were commonly resistant to penicillin (21.5 ) and 23 of Hib isolates were simultaneously resistant to ampicillin, co-trimoxazole and chloramphenicol. The case fatality rate in patients with a recognised bacterial pathogen was 13.4 compared to 8.5 in culture-negative patients. Conclusions: If implemented in routine expanded programme of immunisation (EPI) with high coverage, current PCVs could prevent almost half of pneumococcal meningitis cases. Given the diversity of circulating serotypes in PNG serotype replacement is of concern. Ongoing surveillance is imperative to monitor the impact of vaccines. In the longer term vaccines providing broader protection against pneumococcal meningitis will be needed.