Acarological risk was calculated as the probability of encountering at least one host-seeking Ixodes ricinus tick infected by the pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, in 100 m transects in the province of Genoa, Italy. The seasonal pattern of I. ricinus was studied using generalized estimating equations (GEE) with negative binomial error, to consider overdispersion of tick counts and repeated sampling of the same dragging sites from April 1998 to March 1999. Prevalence of infection by B. burgdorferi s.l. was evaluated by PCR and hybridization with genospecies-specific probes. Acarological risk (R) peaked in April (R=0·2, 95% CI 0·13–0·26) and November (R=0·29, 95% CI 0·10–0·46). Borrelia garinii and B. valaisiana were the most common genospecies at our study site suggesting a major role of birds as reservoirs. DNA from Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the agent of granulocytic ehrlichiosis in humans and animals, was amplified from an adult I. ricinus.