Severe malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax is no longer considered rare. To describe its clinical features, we performed a retrospective case control study in the subregion of Luciano Castillo Colonna, Piura, Peru, an area with nearly exclusive vivax malaria transmission. Severe cases and the subset of critically ill cases were compared with a random set of uncomplicated malaria cases (1:4). Between 2008 and 2009, 6,502 malaria cases were reported, including 106 hospitalized cases, 81 of which fit the World Health Organization definition for severe malaria. Of these 81 individuals, 28 individuals were critically ill (0.4%, 95% confidence interval = 0.2-0.6%) with severe anemia (57%), shock (25%), lung injury (21%), acute renal failure (14%), or cerebral malaria (11%). Two potentially malaria-related deaths occurred. Compared with uncomplicated cases, individuals critically ill were older (38 versus 26 years old, P < 0.001), but similar in other regards. Severe vivax malaria monoinfection with critical illness is more common than previously thought.