Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leukocytosis in severe malaria was assessed in 87 children in Papua New Guinea participating in a detailed longitudinal observational study who had undergone lumbar puncture for further investigation of altered consciousness and/or convulsions. After rigorous exclusion of non-malarial infection, 16 (20.5%) of 78 children with Plasmodium falciparum monoinfection but 0 of 9 with P. vivax/mixed-species malaria had a detectable CSF leukocytosis, which was unrelated to prior, including complex, seizures. There were eight children with a CSF leukocyte density > 10 cells/μL (9.2% of the total sample), half of whom had cerebral malaria (4 of 22, 18.1%). Cerebrospinal fluid leukocytosis is infrequent in severe pediatric malaria, especially in children with P. vivax infections, and it is generally mild. Its presence in a blood slide-positive child should prompt consideration of alternative diagnoses and empiric antibiotic therapy. Copyright © 2013 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.