Pneumonia is an important cause of illness and death in England. To describe trends in pneumonia hospitalizations, we extracted information on all episodes of pneumonia that occurred from April 1997 through March 2005 recorded in the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database by searching for International Classification of Diseases 10th revision codes J12-J18 in any diagnostic field. The age-standardized incidence of hospitalization with a primary diagnosis of pneumonia increased by 34% from 1.48 to 1.98 per 1,000 population between 1997-98 and 2004-05. The increase was more marked in older adults, in whom the mortality rate was also highest. The proportion of patients with recorded coexisting conditions (defined by using the Charlson Comorbidity Index score) increased over the study period. The rise in pneumonia hospital admissions was not fully explained by demographic change or increasing coexisting conditions. It may be attributable to other population factors, changes in HES coding, changes to health service organization, other biologic phenomenon, or a combination of these effects.