The importance of early prevention and treatment of sepsis has never been greater. In the UK alone sepsis contributes to more deaths than lung cancer, from bowel cancer and breast cancer combined, and approximately one third of patients who suffer from severe sepsis die. The ABC of Sepsis provides a much needed introduction and an invaluable aid in the increasing efforts to reduce hospital infection and improve patient safety. As growing numbers of junior medical staff experience emergency medicine, critical care and acute medicine as part of the Foundation Programme, there is an increasing need to develop the skills required to treat severe sepsis. The editors are involved with the Survive Sepsis campaign - developed to improve the recognition, diagnosis and treatment of sepsis - and are perfectly placed to guide junior medics, GPs, specialist nurses, critical care nurses and primary care staff through this core aspect of acute medicine.