Pneumonia is caused by respiratory bacteria and/or viruses. Little is known if co-infections are an aggravating factor in hospitalised children with severe pneumonia. We studied the impact of respiratory pathogens on the severity of pneumonia. Between 2007 and 2009, 52 children hospitalised with a well-documented diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), with or without parapneumonic empyema (PPE), were enrolled in the study. The patients were classified into 2 groups: CAP + PPE (n=28) and CAP (n=24). The identification of respiratory viruses and bacteria in nasopharyngeal aspirates and pleural effusion samples were performed using conventional bacterial techniques and molecular assays. Using real-time multiplex PCR and antigen detection, Streptococcus pneumoniae was the main agent identified in 76% of the cases by molecular tests and BinaxNOW® in pleural fluid. A total of 8% of pleural fluid samples remained undiagnosed. In nasopharyngeal aspirates, rhinovirus, parainfluenza viruses, human metapneumovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus were detected in both CAP and CAP + PPE populations; however, the percentage of viral co-detection was significantly higher in nasopharyngeal aspirates from CAP + PPE patients (35%) compared with CAP patients (5%). In conclusion, viral co-detection was observed mainly in patients with more severe pneumonia. Molecular biology assays improved the pathogens detection in pneumonia and confirmed the S. pneumoniae detection by BinaxNOW® in pleural effusion samples. Interestingly, the main S. pneumoniae serotypes found in PPE are not the ones targeted by the heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.