in order to investigate epidemiological and clinical characteristics of visceral leishmaniasis in children up to 15 years old, a prospective study was carried out in alagoas, brasil from 1981 to 1995. of the 530 diagnosed cases, predominantly from the rural area of alagoas state, 58% were male and 42% female, being 55.3% children under 5 years old. the most frequently observed clinical manifestations were: hepatosplenomegaly, fever and parlor. the average size of the liver and the spleen of patients with shorter time of disease (<30 days) were smaller than those presenting sickness for a extended time (> 360 days). no matter the length of disease there was reduction of the liver and the spleen after treatment. however, the reduction of the spleen was higher in those patients with less time of sickness. with relation to liver that diference was not observed.