BACKGROUND: Encephalitis is a serious neurologic condition that can result in admission to intensive care. Yet, there are no studies on pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission rates and usage of intensive care resources by children with encephalitis in England and Wales. The objectives of this study were to (1) define the PICU incidence and mortality rates for childhood encephalitis, (2) describe the usage of intensive care resources by children with encephalitis admitted to PICU and (3) explore the associated cost from PICU encephalitis admissions. METHODS: Retrospective analysis of anonymized data for 1031 children (0-17 years) with encephalitis admitted (January 2003 to December 2013) to PICU in England and Wales. RESULTS: The PICU encephalitis incidence was 0.79/100,000 population/yr (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.74-0.84), which gives an annual total of 214 bed days of intensive care occupancy for children admitted with encephalitis and an estimated annual PICU bed cost of £414,230 (interquartile range: 198,111-882,495) for this cohort. PICU encephalitis admissions increased during the study period (annual percentage change = 4.5%, 95% CI: 2.43%-6.50%, P ≤ 0.0001). In total, 808/1024 (78.9%) cases received invasive ventilation while 216/983 (22.0%) and 50/890 (5.6%) cases received vasoactive treatment and renal support, respectively. There were 87 deaths (8.4%), giving a PICU encephalitis mortality rate of 0.07/100,000 population (0-17 years)/yr (95% CI: 0.05-0.08). CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that encephalitis places a significant burden to the healthcare service. More work is needed to improve outcomes for children with encephalitis.