OBJECTIVE:To describe the epidemiological and microbiological characteristics and notification patterns of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in Victoria between 1990 and 1999. METHODS:Cases of IMD occurring between 1990 and 1995 identified in any of three databases were combined, matching where possible. Statistical modelling provided estimates of cases missing from all datasets. Notification sources for 1999 and 2000 cases were identified. Cases identified from notification and laboratory results provided the data to describe IMD epidemiology between 1990 and 1999. RESULTS:Between 1990 and 1995, 479 cases of IMD were identified. Three individual datasets each identified between 62 and 82% of cases and 47% of cases were identified in all three datasets. Statistical modelling estimated that between 37 and 83 additional cases were not identified by any dataset. Serogroup B and C strains caused 63 and 33% of culture-positive cases, respectively, with a substantial rise in serogroup C cases in 1999. Epidemiological characteristics remained relatively constant between 1990 and 1998, but an increase in patient age was seen in cases with serogroup C disease in 1999. In addition to three clonal strains seen elsewhere, an additional strain was identified that was unique to Victoria. Since January 1999, only 72% of notifications have come from treating doctors. CONCLUSIONS:Meningococcal disease is of increasing public health significance in Victoria. Laboratory enhanced notification has improved case identification and detailed microbiological information has improved our understanding of the changing epidemiology of this disease. Collaboration with laboratories and other agencies, active investigation of putative cases and microbiological monitoring are important elements in supporting public health decisions about the control of IMD.