Abstract Background: Bloodstream infections (BSI) occurring in community and health-care settings vary with the patient group and treatment of underlying medical conditions. We studied the clinical infectious syndromes occurring in patients with positive blood cultures routinely obtained at a regional secondary and tertiary care hospital. Methods: BSI were categorized as either community-acquired (C-BSI), or health-care-associated (H-BSI) acquired either as a (i) non-inpatient (outpatient) or (ii) hospital inpatient. Clinical information was collected prospectively during the 1-year study. Results: There were 193 C-BSI and 230 H-BSI. The large majority of C-BSI were caused by bacterial pathogens susceptible to narrow-spectrum antibiotics, particularly in children. Cefuroxime was active against 90% of C-BSI isolates and 46% of H-BSI isolates, excluding anaerobes. Of all H-BSI, the 35% occurring in outpatients had a similar source, microbiological cause and bacterial susceptibilities to the inpatients. H-BSI were infrequently due to enterococci (4%), Candida (3%) or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (0.4%). No BSI were due to vancomycin-resistant enterococci or extended-spectrum -lactamase producing Enterobacteriaciae. I.v. catheters, predominantly central lines, were the source of 60% of all H-BSI, mostly in haematology–oncology or neonatal patients. Mortality at 1 month was 12% overall for both C-BSI and H-BSI, varying markedly by underlying disease and increasing age (for C-BSI). Conclusion: In this population, C-BSI have remained susceptible to narrow-spectrum antibiotics, whereas H-BSI due to multiresistant organisms were rare. Obtaining a history of recent medical procedures is important for community patients presenting with a BSI.