Penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae strains isolated in different parts of Germany between 1982 and 1992 were compared with penicillin-resistant isolates, mainly of serogroups 6, 9, 14, 19 and 23, from other European countries. The main clones were recognised by their serotypes, antibiotic resistance patterns and penicillin-binding protein properties, and this typing was confirmed by multi-locus enzyme electrophoresis for a sample of 43 selected isolates. Eleven of the 14 resistant German isolates could be assigned to five genotypes isolated also in other countries. These included representatives of two distinct serotype 23F lineages predominant in Spain and France; a cluster of three serotype 6B isolates identical to clones in Spain, France, Finland and Hungary; and a serotype 9V clone of a type prevalent in Spain and now also in France. Serotype 19A clones of the type found in Hungary were not collected in Germany. The data suggest that two 23F lineages, represented by seven isolates from different locations, have become disseminated in Germany. Several resistant types found in the former West Germany resembled those found elsewhere in Western Europe whereas those from East Germany were distinct or, in one case, resembled a clone from Hungary. These data may reflect pre-unification travel patterns.