OBJECTIVE To summarize the spectrum of disease and common diseases that cause death in children admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University between 2005 and 2012. METHODS A retrospective analysis was carried out on the clinical data of 4484 children admitted to the PICU of Shengjing Hospital between 2005 and 2012. RESULTS Acute bronchopneumonia, which was found in 1099 (24.51%) of the 4484 cases, was the most common disease in the PICU between 2005 and 2012. The incidence of intracranial infection, sepsis, hand-foot-mouth disease and trauma showed an increasing trend from 2005 to 2012, but that of non-traumatic intracranial hemorrhage, epilepsy and congenital heart disease showed a decreasing trend. The mortality decreased from 11.5% in 2005 to 3.1% in 2012, and the overall mortality was significantly higher in 2005-2008 than in 2009-2012 (11.98% vs 4.41%; P<0.01). The main causes of death included severe acute bronchial pneumonia, severe sepsis, complex congenital heart disease, severe cerebral trauma, respiratory failure, severe hand-foot-mouth disease, acute poisoning and circulatory failure. CONCLUSIONS Acute bronchopneumonia was the most common disease in the PICU of Shengjing Hospital between 2005 and 2012, but the spectrum of disease changed over time. The mortality showed a decreasing trend among the children in the PICU between 2005 and 2012, and the main causes of death included severe acute bronchial pneumonia and severe sepsis.