- Background Acute haematogenous osteomyelities (AHO) is the most common form of osteomyelitis, occurring when bone is infected secondary to transient bacteremia. The prevalence, aetiology and outcome of AHO may vary from region to region and period to period. The study objectives were to define the epidemiology, clinical, laboratory and imaging characteristics and treatment consequences of AHO in children in southern Israel. Methods This was a retrospective cohort study, enrolling all children <16 years of age hospitalized with AHO. Epidemiologic, clinical, laboratory and imaging data were recorded from medical charts. Results Ninety-one patients were diagnosed with AHO (52.7 % <4 years of age). Most children (80.24 %) did not receive antibiotic treatment prior to diagnosis. During 2005–2012 the AHO incidence was 5.6:100,000; the AHO incidence in the Bedouin and Jewish population was 7.3 and 4.1:100,000, respectively. Fifty-four (57.8 %) patients were afebrile at admission and 34 (37.4 %) showed leukocytosis >15,000/mm3. The most involved bone was tibia (39.6 %), followed by femur (19.8 %), humerus (8.8 %) and pelvis (8.8 %). Positive cultures were reported in 26 (28.6 %) patients. The most common pathogen was methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA, 18 patients, 19.8 %). There was only one case of MRSA. More positive cultures were recorded among children requiring surgery compared to children treated conservatively (P < 0.01). MSSA representation in cases requiring surgical intervention was higher than in cases treated conservatively (P = 0.01). There were nine bone biopsies and 33 bone aspirations (MSSA in 44.4 % and 24.2 %, respectively). The longest hospitalization was observed in patients with humerus-AHO (14.8 ± 12.2 days). There was no difference in the number of days of hospitalization between patients who received previous antibiotics compared with children who did not receive antibiotics before admission. Conclusions Tibia was the most frequently involved bone, but humeral AHO required more surgical intervention and longer hospitalization. Negative cultures were frequent, MSSA was the most commonly involved pathogen and MRSA was rare. Culture positive AHO was associated with higher requirement for surgical intervention.