Background Chromobacterium violaceum is a proteobacterium found in soil and water in tropical regions. The organism rarely causes infection in humans, yet can cause a severe systemic infection by entering the bloodstream via an open wound. Case presentation We recently identified a case of severe bacteremia caused by Chromobacterium violaceum at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases (HTD) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Here, we describe how rapid microbiological identification and a combination of antimicrobials was used to successfully treat this life threatening infection in a four-year-old child. Conclusions This case shows the need for rapid diagnosis when there is the suspicion of a puncture wound contaminated with water and soil in tropical regions. We suggest that the aggressive antimicrobial combination used here is considered when this infection is suspected.