Information about community-acquired bacteraemia in developing countries in south and southeast Asia is scarce. We aimed to establish the case fraction of bacteraemia in febrile patients admitted to hospital. We searched four databases and identified studies of south and southeast Asia published between 1990 and 2010 that prospectively assessed patients admitted to hospital and from whom a blood culture was taken. We reviewed 17 eligible studies describing 40 644 patients. Pathogenic organisms were isolated from 3506 patients (9%; range 1-51%); 1784 (12%) of 14 386 adults and 1722 (7%) of 26 258 children. Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi was the most common bacterial pathogen, accounting for 532 of 1798 (30%) isolates in adults and 432 of 1723 (25%) in children. Other commonly isolated organisms in adults were Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and other Gram-negative organisms, and in children were Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. A substantial case fraction of bacteraemia occurs in patients admitted to hospital with fever in this region. Management could be improved if diagnostic microbiology facilities were more widely available. The prevailing organisms causing bacteraemia and their susceptibility patterns could inform empirical treatment regimens and prevention strategies. � 2012 Elsevier Ltd.