This study investigates the distribution of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles within Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis phage type (PT) 4 and S. Typhimurium definitive phage type (DT) 104, from cases of human infection in nine European countries from 2000 to 2004. Isolates were subtyped using standardized methods and gel images submitted by each participating country to the coordinating centre (Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, London, UK), where they were entered into a central database, developed within BioNumerics software, and designated using an agreed nomenclature. S. Enteritidis PT4 (n = 3637) was differentiated into 38 different profiles. Simpson's index of diversity (D) of profiles ranged from 0.2 to 0.4. Profile SENTXB.0001 represented at least 80% of all profiles in each country. S. Typhimurium DT104 (n = 1202) was differentiated into 28 different profile types. Simpson's D was at least 0.6 in all countries except in Austria and Italy. In both these countries over 74% of S. Typhimurium DT104 profiles were STYMXB.0013. Profile STYMXB.0061, was predominant in Denmark, Spain, Finland and England & Wales where it represented between 36% and 45% of profiles. Profile STYMXB.0001 represented nearly half of all profiles in Scotland and 23% in England & Wales. PFGE is proving useful for further discrimination within S. Enteritidis PT4 and S. Typhimurium DT104. Ascertainment of international outbreaks involving common serotypes and phage types may be increased by the timely pooling of PFGE profiles within a central database readily accessible to all participating countries. © 2005 Cambridge University Press.