A total of 4624 pneumococcal isolates from episodes of systemic pneumococcal disease were received at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health during the period 1995–2001. All isolates were serotyped and tested for susceptibility to benzylpenicillin, lincomycin, erythromycin, tetracycline and trimethroprim–sulphamethoxazole. The proportion of strains resistant to these antimicrobial agents remained stable at a low level, ranging from 0·1% for benzylpenicillin to 2·5% for erythromycin. The distribution of serotypes was also stable over the 7 years: serotypes 1, 4, 9, 14, 7, 6 and 23 were the most frequent, representing 70·5% of isolates. Overall, 95·8% of the isolates were of serotypes/groups included in the current 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine, 52·2% were of serotypes/groups included in the 7-valent conjugated vaccine and 85·5% were of serotypes/groups included in the 11-valent conjugated vaccine.