Xanthomonas maltophilia was isolated from 25 of 150 patients with cystic fibrosis during a period of 10 years (1983-1992). Twelve patients harboured X. maltophilia chronically, i.e. repeatedly for more than 6 months. No predisposing factors for the colonisation could be identified by studying the clinical and laboratory data of the patients, including preceding and concurrent bacterial colonisation with other bacteria, antibacterial treatments, pulmonary function and biochemical markers. Up to 2 years after the chronic colonisation was established no clinical deterioration could be verified, but the patients with X. maltophilia generally had a worse lung function at the latest follow-up (2-7 years after colonisation) than controls colonised with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (p < 0.05). Our data imply that X. maltophilia is a pathogen and the colonisation appears to follow the same pattern as the colonisation by P. aeruginosa. The development of resistance to different antibiotics, as revealed by analysis of the inhibition zones, was related to antibacterial treatment courses. X. maltophilia showed reduced sensitivity to the most commonly used antibiotics, ceftazidime and tobramycin.