In malaria-endemic areas, reliably establishing parasitaemia for diagnosis of malaria can be difficult. A retinopathy with some features unique to severe malaria with a predictive value on prognosis, has been described. Detection of this retinopathy could be a useful diagnostic tool. This study was designed to determine the diagnostic usefulness of retinopathy on ophthalmoscopy in severe malaria syndromes: Cerebral malaria (CM) and non-cerebral severe malaria (non-CM), i.e. malaria with respiratory distress (RD) and malaria with severe anaemia (SA), in Ghanaian children. Secondly, to determine any association between retinopathy and the occurrence of convulsions in patients with CM.