This pan-European study included unrelated strains of Legionella pneumophila obtained from 1335 cases of Legionnaires' disease. The isolates were serotyped into the serogroups 1 to 15 by monoclonal antibodies (MAb) and/or rabbit antisera. Additionally, MAb subgrouping was undertaken for isolates belonging to serogroups 1, 4, and 5. Monoclonal types of serogroup 1 were subdivided as having, or not having, the virulence-associated epitope recognized by the MAb 3/1 (Dresden Panel). This epitope is not present on strains belonging to any other serogroups. Taking all Legionella incidents together, MAb 3/1-positive cases were most frequent (66.8%); 11.7% of the isolates belonged to MAb 3/1-negative serogroup 1 subgroups and 21.5% to other serogroups, with serogroups 3 and 6 predominating. Among all serotypes discriminated in this study, monoclonal subtype Philadelphia was the most frequent. If categories of infection were considered, the proportion of MAb 3/1-negative strains differed significantly ( P<0.0005) between community-acquired cases (139/510; 27.3%) and travel-associated (42/295; 14.2%) or hospital-acquired infections (176/329; 53.5%). Moreover, taking distribution in different European areas into account, the proportion of MAb 3/1-negative strains was significantly higher in the Scandinavian region than in the Mediterranean countries or the UK for both community-acquired (48.7% vs. 18.6% or 12.0%; P<0.0005) and nosocomial cases (87.7% vs. 32.6% or 52.6%; P</=0.0007).