In order to study the long-term distribution and population dynamics of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains in a highly contaminated hospital environment, two 4-week epidemiological studies, with an interval of 4 years, were carried out in the cystic fibrosis (CF) ward of the Paediatric Clinic of the Medical School of Hannover. Out of the 1948 specimens taken, P. aeruginosa was mainly identified in those from moist, inanimate sources (200 isolates) and hospitalized CF patients (168 isolates). A correlation was established between the frequency with which P. aeruginosa-positive patients came into contact with hospital facilities and the rate of contamination of these facilities. Rooms reserved for colonized patients were more frequently contaminated with P. aeruginosa in contrast to function rooms in the same ward and the outpatient clinic. However, no direct exchange between patients' strains and the inanimate hospital environment was detected. Out of the 11 genotypes of P. aeruginosa found in 1989 and the 13 genotypes found in 1993, four genotypes were present on both occasions. The most predominant clone was found in tap-water, sinks, wash-basins and creams with an incidence of 34 and 68% in the environmental isolates. The strains seemed to have spread into the adjacent control ward during the 4-year interval. Thus, the separation of colonized and non-colonized patients was undermined through the transfer of strains from a highly contaminated environment without additional hygiene precautions.