PURPOSE: Acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE) is a fulminant disease of the brain characterized by bilateral thalamic lesions, and is prevalent among children in East Asia. The prognosis of ANE is usually poor with a high mortality rate and neurological sequelae. This study aimed to delineate the clinical characteristics and prognostic factors of ANE. METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed clinical data of 399 pediatric patients with encephalitis who were admitted to Samsung Medical Center from December 1998 to March 2011. We enrolled ten patients (11 cases) with ANE and analyzed their demographic, clinical, and neuroimaging data. The location and extent of the brain regions were checked based on fluid-attenuated inversion recovery, T1-, and T2-weighted imaging findings; the presence of contrast enhancement, restricted diffusion, and hemorrhage. RESULTS: Ten patients were identified, including one patient with two episodes. The median age of onset was 1.5 years (0.4-8.4 years). The mortality rate was 40%, and only 30% of patients survived without neurological sequelae. The definite involvement of the brainstem on brain magnetic resonance imaging was significantly correlated with mortality (P=0.04). CONCLUSION: Broad and extensive brainstem involvement suggested the fulminant course of ANE. Early diagnosis of ANE before brainstem involvement, through careful identification of symptoms of brain dysfunction, may be the best way to achieve better neurological outcomes.