The prevalence of resistance to antibiotics was examined among 318 Streptococcus pneumoniae strains isolated during 1998 and 1999 in a children's hospital in Athens. The rate of resistance to penicillin was 25.8% (intermediate 22%, resistant 3.8%); 42.5% of the strains were resistant to ≥1 antibiotic and 20% were multidrug resistant. Resistance to penicillin was lowest in invasive strains (8.3%) and highest in ear isolates (31%). A review of the same microbiology laboratory's records revealed that there has been a gradual increase in penicillin resistance since 1988-1989, when it was 5%. Capsular types were determined for 77 strains resistant to ≥1 antibiotic, and 69 (90%) of them belonged to the following five serotypes: 19F, 14, 9V, 23F, and 6B. Seventy-five strains were analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and 59/75 (79%) shared five electrophoretic types. The largest cluster consisted of 19 serotype 19F strains, of which 18 were nonsusceptible to penicillin and most were multidrug resistant and shared a common and distinct electrophoretic pattern not resembling any known clone. A group of 17 strains that were nonsusceptible to penicillin belonged to serotypes 9V (10), 14 (6), and 19F (1) and shared a common PFGE type similar to the international clone Spain9V-3. Seven serotype 23F strains, of which five were multidrug resistant, belonged to the international clone Spain23F-1. Among the strains susceptible to penicillin but resistant to non-β-lactam antibiotics, the largest cluster consisted of 13 isolates resistant to erythromycin that belonged to serotype 14 and shared an electrophoretic pattern characteristic of the clone England14-9. Finally, three serotype 6B strains were penicillin susceptible and multidrug resistant and had features similar to the Mediterranean 6B clone. The introduction and spread of several antibiotic-resistant international clones accounts at least in part for the increase in pneumococcal resistance observed in recent years in the Athens metropolitan area.