We analysed a collection of 95 multiply antibiotic-resistant pneumococci, recovered since 1988 from 14 Spanish hospitals, that have MICs > or = 0.25 microgram benzylpenicillin ml-1. The majority of the isolates were of serogroups 14, 23, 6, 19 and 15, which are currently the serogroups mainly associated with multiresistance in Spain. All of the serogroup 23 isolates were members of the major Spanish serotype 23F multiresistant clone. Similarly, most of the serogroup 6 isolates were members of the major multiresistant serotype 6B clone, or variants of this clone. Eighteen of the 24 isolates of serogroup 19 were members of a highly penicillin-resistant clone that appears to be a serotype 19F variant of the major Spanish serotype 23F multiresistant clone. Eighteen of the 25 isolates of serotype 14 were members of a previously uncharacterized highly penicillin-resistant clone. Thirteen of the 16 isolates of serogroup 15 were members of a single previously unreported clone of serotype 15F that had moderate levels of resistance to penicillin. Approximately 65% of the multiresistant pneumococci that are currently circulating in Spain were members of the three new clones of serotype 14, 15F and 19F that we describe here, or the previously described serotype 6B and 23F clones. The other 35% of isolates were minor variants of the major clones, unrelated minor clones, and unique isolates, many of which appeared to have arisen by horizontal gene transfer events.