The frequency of isolation of pathogens that cause different types of infections is an important guide for empiric therapy. As part of the SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program, the frequency of isolation of different bacterial species from bloodstream, nosocomial pneumonia, skin and soft tissue, and urinary tract infections occurring in European patients was determined. A total of 15,704 isolates were collected in 1997 and 1998 from 24 university hospitals in 14 European countries: 9,194 from bloodstream, 2,052 from nosocomial pneumonia, 2,320 from skin and soft tissue, and 2,138 from urinary tract infections. More than 95% of all bacterial infections were caused by only 15 different genera. Staphylococcus spp. and Escherichia spp, accounted for more than 50% of the infectious isolates, with the exception of those obtained from cases of nosocomial pneumonia. In the latter type of infection, isolates belonging to these two genera were responsible for 30% of the infections. An analysis at the individual species level showed that Escherichia coli caused a large proportion of bloodstream and urinary tract infections (20.8% and 49.3% of isolates, respectively). Staphylococcus aureus was the main causative species for nosocomial pneumonia and skin and soft tissue infections (21.5% and 37.4% of isolates, respectively). In addition, Pseudomonas aeruginosa played an important role in all types of infection analyzed.