Background: Malaria within the Greater Mekong sub-region is extremely heterogeneous. While China and Thailand have been relatively successful in controlling malaria, Myanmar continues to see high prevalence. Coupled with the recent emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria along the Thai-Myanmar border, this makes Myanmar an important focus of malaria within the overall region. However, accurate epidemiological data from Myanmar have been lacking, in part because of ongoing and emerging conflicts between the government and various ethnic groups. Here the results are reported from a risk analysis of malaria slide positivity in a conflict zone along the China-Myanmar border. Methods. Surveys were conducted in 13 clinics and hospitals around Laiza City, Myanmar between April 2011 and October 2012. Demographic, occupational and educational information, as well as malaria infection history, were collected. Logistic models were used to assess risk factors for slide positivity. Results: Age patterns in Plasmodium vivax infections were younger than those with Plasmodium falciparum. Furthermore, males were more likely than females to have falciparum infections. Patients who reported having been infected with malaria during the previous year were much more likely to have a current vivax infection. During the second year of the study, falciparum infections among soldiers increased signficiantly. Conclusions: These results fill some knowledge gaps with regard to risk factors associated with malaria slide positivity in this conflict region of north-eastern Myanmar. Since epidemiological studies in this region have been rare or non-existent, studies such as the current are crucial for understanding the dynamic nature of malaria in this extremely heterogeneous epidemiological landscape. © 2013 Li et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.