We describe the development of the Australian gonococcal surveillance programme from February 1979 to July 1982. Participants in the programme were the major public health laboratories in each state, which perform quantitative sensitivity tests on about 5400 strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae yearly. Participating laboratories conducted sensitivity tests by a standardised technique which is described, and the results from each centre were collated quarterly. Temporal and regional differences in gonococcal sensitivity patterns were noted and, in the twelve months ending June 1982, there was a trend towards a decrease in gonococci sensitive to penicillin. Increasing numbers of penicillinase producing gonococci were found, and the isolation rates of these strains varied in different regions at different times.