Introduction: The purpose of the present study was to measure the incidence and outcome of septic patients presenting at the emergency department (ED) with criteria for early goal-directed therapy (EGDT). Method: This hospital-based, retrospective, observational study using prospectively collected electronic databases was based in a teaching hospital in Melbourne, Australia. We conducted outcome-blinded electronic screening of patients with infection admitted via the ED from 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2003. We obtained data on demographics, laboratory and clinical features on admission. We used paper records to confirm electronic identification of candidates for EGDT and to study their treatment. We followed up all patients until hospital discharge or death. Results: Of 4,784 ED patients with an infectious disease diagnosis, only 50 fulfilled published clinical inclusion criteria for EGDT (EGDT candidates). Of these patients, 37 (74 ) survived their hospital admission, two (4 ) died in the ED, eight (16 ) died in the intensive care unit and three (6 ) died in the ward. After review of all ward cardiac arrests and non-NFR ( not for resuscitation ) ward deaths, we identified a further two potential candidates for EGDT for an overall mortality of 28.8 (15 out of 52 patients). Analysis of treatment showed that twice as many (70 ) of the EGDT candidates received vasopressor therapy in the ED, and their initial mean central venous pressure (10.8 mmHg) was almost twice that in patients from the EGDT study conducted by Rivers and coworkers. Conclusion: In an Australian teaching hospital candidates for EGDT were uncommon and, in the absence of an EGDT protocol, their mortality was lower than that reported with EGDT. A? 2006 Ho et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.