To determine the magnitude of gynaecological emergencies and the socio demographic characteristics of patients admitted at Provincial General Hospital Kakamega (PGHK). DESIGN: Retrospective cross-sectional study. SETTING: Provincial General Hospital Kakamega, the referral hospital for Western Province, Kenya. SUBJECTS: Four hundred patients admitted at the gynaecological wards during the period 1st January 2002 to 31st December 2002. RESULTS: In this study 80% of gynaecological patients admitted at PGH Kakamega were of an emergency nature with 45% being teenagers. The mean age was 17 +/- 3 (mean +/- SD). The majority had primary level of education or below (69%), unemployed (87%) and were rural residents (71%). Patients with abortion formed about 43% of the study group while those with inflammatory disease, pelvic abscess and ectopic pregnancy formed about 24%, 10% and 8% respectively. CONCLUSION: Most gynaecological admissions in PGH Kakamega are of acute nature, with abortion being the most common diagnosis. Hence, trained staff, equipment, supplies and drugs for management of acute gynaecological conditions should be available in hospitals in Western Kenya.