The objective of this retrospective study was to determine the possible source of infection in homosexual men with rectal gonorrhoea: the probable source of rectal gonorrhoea was identified in 46/155 cases. Although the urethra was the site of infection in 33 (72%) of these contacts, only pharyngeal gonorrhoea was identified in 9 (20%) men. In 25/26 cases, there was concordance in the auxo/serotypes of Neisseria gonorrhoeae between contacts with urethral gonorrhoea and the index men with rectal gonorrhoea. Eleven out of 12 pharyngeal isolates were of the same auxo/serotype as the index cases. This study supports the hypothesis that rectal gonorrhoea in homosexual men can be acquired from the oropharynx. Because infection at this site is an independent risk factor for acquisition of HIV, screening for rectal and pharyngeal gonorrhoea should be offered to men who have sex with men, even when there is no history of unprotected receptive anal intercourse.