To investigate whether ticks of the genus Ixodes are infected by Borrelia burgdorferi complex, 490 unfed Ixodes ricinus ticks were collected by flagging in three different areas of Tunisia in 1998. DNAs extracted from 81 adults, 60 nymphs and 38 larvae were analysed after genic amplification of the non-coding spacer between the two copies of the rrl-rrf genes of B. burgdorferi sl. The prevalence of B. burgdorferi sl. in adults, nymphs and larvae was found to be 34, 33.3 and 2.6%, respectively. All DNAs (n = 61) but one were identified as belonging to different genotypes of B. lusitaniae by analysis of the restriction fragment length polymorphism of amplification products. In addition, 290 adults, 14 nymphs and 7 larvae were used to inoculate BSK-H medium to isolate spirochetes. Fifteen strains were isolated from adult ticks in the humid areas of Tunisia, whereas only one was obtained from larvae. Isolates were identified as B. lusitaniae (15/16) and B. garinii (1/16). These results provide new evidence for the existence of Lyme borreliosis in North Africa.