The molecular epidemiology of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in cystic fibrosis (CF) siblings was analysed by DNA fingerprinting using arbitrary primed polymerase chain reaction. A total of 306 strains collected from six pairs of siblings over a period of 20-126 months (median 64) was studied. Fifty-four different P. aeruginosa genotypes were recognized. Two out of six pairs of siblings were ultimately colonized by identical strains, and it was shown that a single P. aeruginosa clone can persist in an individual patient for over ten years. No overlap in P. aeruginosa genotypes was encountered between families, whereas in all families at least transient cross-colonization with the same genotype was observed. This finding demonstrates that P. aeruginosa cross-infection or acquisition of the same strain from an identical environmental source exists within the family situation, but does not always result in a long-term colonization by identical genotypes in all family members suffering from CF.