Borrelia burgdorferi isolates were obtained from Ixodes ricinus from three sites in Switzerland. They were examined by SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting. The phenotypes, in respect of three outer surface proteins (Osp), differed between the sites of collection. In site 1, most isolates had an OspA of 31 kDa and an OspB of 34 kDa: in site 2, isolates presenting an OspA of 33 kDa dominated and in site 3, the isolates with an OspA of 32 kDa and an OspB of 35 kDa were most frequent. This distribution differed significantly. About half of the isolates from sites 1 and 3 reacted with anti-OspA monoclonal antibody H5332 compared to 29% from site 2. Site 1 isolates reacted significantly more frequently (81 %) with another anti-OspA monoclonal antibody LA-31 than isolates from site 3 (P < 0·0001). These findings have implications for the epidemiology of Lyme borreliosis, for the further development of serodiagnostic reagents and for the development of a vaccine.