Surveillance and control are important aspects of food safety assurance strategies at the pre-harvest level of pork production. Prior to implementation of a Salmonella surveillance and control programme, it is important to have knowledge on the dynamics and epidemiology of Salmonella infections in pig herds. For this purpose, 17 finishing pig herds initially classified as seropositive and 15 as seronegative, were followed for a 2-year period through serological and bacteriological sampling. The study included 10 herds from Denmark, 13 from The Netherlands, 4 from Germany and 5 from Sweden and was performed between October 1996 and May 1999. The Salmonella status of finishing pig herds was determined by an initial blood sampling of approximately 50 finishing pigs close to market weight per herd. The development of the Salmonella status of the selected herds was assessed at seven subsequent sampling rounds of 25 blood samples from finishing pigs, 25 blood samples from grower pigs and 10 pen faecal samples each, approximately 3 months apart. The odds for testing finishers seropositive, given that growers were found seropositive previously were 10 times higher than if growers were seronegative (OR 10·0, 95% CI 3·2–32·8). When Salmonella was isolated from pen faecal samples, the herd was more likely to be classified seropositive in the same sampling round, compared to no Salmonella being detected (OR 4·0, 95% CI 1·1–14·6). The stability of an initially allocated Salmonella status was found to vary noticeably with time, apparently irrespective of a seropositive or seronegative classification at onset of the study. Given the measured dynamics in the occurrence of Salmonella in pig herds, regular testing is necessary to enable producers, advisors and authorities to react to sudden increases in the Salmonella prevalence in single herds or at a national level.