Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonizes the respiratory tract of most older patients with cystic fibrosis. The means by which these bacteria are acquired and the risk for patient-to-patient spread among subjects with cystic fibrosis are poorly understood. We studied the spread of Ps. aeruginosa within a hospital environment. Pseudomonas was rarely recovered from the inanimate environment surrounding patients with cystic fibrosis or from hand or rectal cultures of patients who were colonized in the oropharynx. There was transient cross-colonization with Ps. aeruginosa between patients with cystic fibrosis sharing a hospital room in three of seven pairs studied. In all cases the "new" isolate was recoverable only once and was not found during a 2-year follow-up. Three of four sibling pairs with cystic fibrosis shared the same Ps. aeruginosa serotype(s). The risk of sustained cross-colonization by Ps. aeruginosa between patients with cystic fibrosis appears to be minimal, except under conditions of prolonged close contact.