Severe rotavirus diarrhea in children <5 years of age is a major public health problem; however, limited regional and country specific data on rotavirus disease burden are available from sub-Saharan Africa. In June 2006, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa initiated rotavirus surveillance in selected African countries.With use of standardized methodology developed by theWorld Health Organization, children <5 years of age who were hospitalized with severe diarrhea were enrolled, and stool specimens were collected for detection of rotavirus strains with use of a commercial enzyme immunoassay. Rotavirus strains were further characterized for G and P types with use of a reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. From June 2006 through December 2008, rotavirus surveillance was established at 14 sites in 11 African countries. Of 5461 stool samples collected from children enrolled in 8 countries with 1 or 2 complete years of data, 2200 (40%) were positive for rotavirus. Ninety percent of all rotavirus hospitalizations occurred among children aged 3-12 months. Predominant types included G1P (21%), G2P (7%), and P  (29%); however, unusual types were also detected, including G8P (5%), G8P (1%), G12P (1%), and G12P (1%). A high percentage of mixed rotavirus infections was also detected. These preliminary results indicate that rotavirus is a major cause of severe diarrheal disease in African children.