Data relating to 3313 adenovirus isolates from patients in Greater Manchester, UK between 1982 and 1996 were analysed using χ2 tests and 95% confidence intervals. Of the 3098 isolates that were typed, 18·6% were serotype 2, 14·9% serotype 3, 12·1% serotype 1 and 10·9% serotype 41. There was evidence of a seasonal occurrence of serotype 7 (March–August), serotype 2 (January–April), serotype 4 (June–August) and subgenus F (September–November). Children less than 5 years old were the most common group of patients with adenovirus infection (61·3%) compared to 24·2% for adults and only 5·6% for school children (5–15 years). Gastric symptoms were the most common amongst infants (47·6%) followed by respiratory (27·5%) and general symptoms (12·9%). In adults, the overwhelming clinical condition was conjunctivitis (88·9%). Despite the traditional association with adenoviruses, remarkably few cases of pharyngoconjunctival fever were recorded (1·7%).