AIM To examine the effect of different clinical characteristics and different treatments on the hospitalisation of infants with bronchiolitis seen in an outpatient clinic setting. METHODS The medical records of infants under 2 years of age who presented with a first episode of wheezing over a two-year period were reviewed retrospectively. Hospitalisation within ten days of evaluation was used as the primary outcome measure. RESULTS Data from 320 patients were included. 17% were hospitalised. Age was lower in the hospitalised patients (4.9 months vs. 7.1, p<0.001). Hospitalisation was higher in RSV-positive versus RSV-negative patients (38% vs. 10%, p<0.001) and was higher in those children who had been exposed to tobacco smoke versus those who hadn't (24% vs. 12%, p<0.01). Treatment with oral corticosteroids was associated with fewer hospitalisations in those patients with a family history of asthma or allergic rhinitis (9.7% vs. 24%, p=0.02) and in RSV-negative patients (2.5% vs. 16.7%, p<0.05). CONCLUSION Early treatment of bronchiolitis with oral corticosteroid in an outpatient clinic setting was associated with lower hospitalisation rates in patients with a family history of asthma or allergic rhinitis and in RSV-negative patients.