The prevalence, resistance patterns and serotypes of antibiotic-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae strains recovered from Greek carriers under 24 months of age were studied. From February 1997 to April 1998, nasopharyngeal cultures were performed in 1,269 children (ages 2-23 months, median 11 months) living in various areas of central and southern Greece. Resistance (including both intermediate and resistant isolates) to one or more antimicrobial agents was found in 132 of the 421 (31%) Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates, as follows: penicillin, 9% intermediate, 7.6% resistant; cefotaxime, 5.2% intermediate, 0.5% resistant; erythromycin, 0.7% intermediate, 18.1% resistant; clindamycin, 0.2% intermediate, 12.4% resistant; tetracycline, 0.7% intermediate, 16.4% resistant; chloramphenicol, 12.4% resistant; and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, 3.8% intermediate, 14.3% resistant. The MICs of penicillin for 66% of the penicillin-nonsusceptible pneumococci were 1-4 microg/ml. Multidrug resistance was found in 64% of penicillin-nonsusceptible and 37% of penicillin-susceptible strains. Sixty-two percent of the penicillin-susceptible, multidrug-resistant strains belonged to serotype 6B and were resistant to all five non-beta-lactam agents tested. This notable serotype 6B resistance pattern was described for the first time in a previous study performed from December 1995 to February 1996 in the city of Patras, southwestern Greece. Seventy-two percent of antibiotic-resistant isolates belonged to serotypes 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F. These results document the spread of resistant pneumococcal strains in central and southern Greece, many of which are multidrug resistant.