Ixodes ricinus ticks, harbouring Borrelia burgdorferi, were found in an area in northern Sweden, not thought to be endemic for Lyme borreliosis. This investigation took place at Norrbyskär, an island situated in the Bothnian Gulf, 63 degrees 33'N/19 degrees 52'E. One of 42 nymphal and 8/43 adult I. ricinus ticks collected carried spirochetes as seen by phase contrast microscopy. Pure bacterial cultures were obtained from 2 of the ticks. Western blot analysis using species-specific monoclonal antibodies showed that the isolated spirochetes were B. burgdorferi. The identity of the isolated spirochetes was confirmed by DNA amplification using B. burgdorferi OspA and flagellin gene specific oligonucleotides as well as partial DNA sequencing of the respective OspA and flagellin genes. The 2 isolated spirochaete populations were different as shown by their protein profiles in sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gels. Moreover, the demonstration of Lyme borreliosis in a patient from the island of Norrbyskär indicates the need for clinical consideration of this disease in northern Sweden.