Identifying indices of poor prognosis at first presentation after acetaminophen poisoning is the key to both improving clinical care and determining targets for intervention. This study intended to document the prevalence, clinical characteristics and predictors of vomiting and to investigate the relationship between episodes of vomiting at first hospital presentation and outcome in acetaminophen poisoning. This retrospective cohort study included patients who attended the emergency department and were admitted within 24 hr of acetaminophen ingestion. The study was conducted over a period of 5 years from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2008. Parametric and non-parametric tests were used to test differences between groups depending on the normality of the data. SPSS 15 was used for data analysis. Data from 291 patients were included. Vomiting was present in 65.3% of patients with acetaminophen poisoning at the time of first presentation. Multiple logistic regression showed that significant risk factors for vomiting were present among patients who reported an ingested dose of acetaminophen >/=10 g (p < 0.001) and a latency time of more than 8 hr (p = 0.030). Overall, an increasing trend in prothrombin time (p = 0.03), serum bilirubin (p < 0.001), serum creatinine (p = 0.005), serum potassium (p < 0.001), length of hospital stay (p < 0.001) and the prevalence of patients who had a serum acetaminophen level above a 'possible toxicity' treatment line (p = 0.001) were associated with an increased number of episodes of vomiting. In conclusion, vomiting was common among patients with acetaminophen poisoning. This study suggests that an increase in episodes of vomiting at first presentation appears to be an important risk marker of subsequent nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity.