1. Total heat loss and its components have been studied in cool (20°C) and warm (30°C) environments in 30 healthy children and 21 children who had been burned (10-17% body surface area) 0.5-29 h previously.
2. In healthy naked children at 20°C, the partition of total heat loss was: radiation, 64%; convection, 32%; evaporation, 4%. On transfer to the warm, total heat loss was reduced by approximately 50%, with disproportionate reductions in the contributions from radiation and convection being offset, to some extent, by an increase in evaporative heat loss.
3. In patients during the first 5.5 h after injury, the magnitude and pattern of heat loss at 20°C and 30°C were similar to those in control subjects and were unaffected by bandaging.
4. Ten to twenty-nine hours after injury, when the patients were bandaged and body temperature and heat content were significantly higher than in control subjects, radiant and convective heat losses were increased, but as evaporative heat loss tended to be reduced; total heat loss in the warm was unchanged. However, at this time at 20°C, total heat loss was reduced compared with healthy children at the same ambient temperature.
5. The findings of unchanged or reduced total heat loss and reduced evaporative heat loss in injured patients are interpreted as inappropriate responses to an increased body temperature and heat content in children after burn injury.