Respiratory viral infections contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality worldwide, but representative data from sub-Saharan Africa are needed to inform vaccination strategies. We conducted population-based surveillance in rural Gambia using standardized criteria to identify and investigate children with acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI). Naso- and oropharyngeal swabs were collected. Each month from February through December 2015, specimens from 50 children aged 2-23 months were randomly selected to test for respiratory syncytial (RSV), parainfluenza (PIV) and influenza viruses. The expected number of viral-associated ALRI cases in the population was estimated using statistical simulation that accounted for the sampling design. RSV G and F proteins and influenza hemagglutinin genes were sequenced. 2385 children with ALRI were enrolled, 519 were randomly selected for viral testing. One or more viruses were detected in 303/519 children (58.4%). RSV-A was detected in 237 and RSV-B in seven. The expected incidence of ALRI associated with RSV, PIV or influenza was 140 cases (95% CI, 131-149) per 1000 person-years; RSV incidence was 112 cases (95% CI, 102-122) per 1000 person-years. Multiple strains of RSV and influenza circulated during the year. RSV circulated throughout most of the year and was associated with eight times the number of ALRI cases compared to PIV or IV. Gambian RSV viruses were closely related to viruses detected in other continents. An effective RSV vaccination strategy could have a major impact on the burden of ALRI in this setting.