Isolates from 3903 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were referred to the national reference laboratory over the 8 years, 1998–2005, as part of the laboratory-based surveillance of this disease in New Zealand. All isolates were serotyped and their antimicrobial susceptibility was tested. The incidence of IPD was highest in young children, with an average annual incidence of 100·8/100 000 in infants aged <2 years. There were changes in the prevalence of several of the serotypes during the 8-year period. Overall the seven serotypes included in the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F, were the most common serotypes and accounted for 80·9% of the disease in infants aged <2 years. There was no overall change in penicillin resistance or non-susceptibility during the 8 years, and rates were 7·1% and 17·1%, respectively, in 2005. In contrast, cefotaxime and erythromycin resistance increased to reach 3·1% and 12·2%, respectively, by 2005.