Ticks are obligate haematophagous acarines that parasitise every class of vertebrate (including man) and have a worldwide distribution. An increasing awareness of tick-borne diseases among clinicians and scientific researchers has led to the recent description of a number of emerging tick-borne bacterial diseases. Since the identification of Borrelia burgdorferi as the agent of Lyme disease in 1982, 11 tick-borne human bacterial pathogens have been described in Europe. Aetiological diagnosis of tick-transmitted diseases is often difficult and relies on specialised laboratories using very specific tools. Interpretation of laboratory data is very important in order to establish the diagnosis. These guidelines aim to help clinicians and microbiologists in diagnosing infection transmitted by tick bites and to provide the scientific and medical community with a better understanding of these infectious diseases.