Pure cultures of Edwarsiella tarda were isolated from body ulcers and internal organs of wild European eels caught in a Mediterranean freshwater coastal lagoon (Albufera Lake, Valencia, Spain) over a 1 yr period. Overall, the E. tarda isolation rate from wild eels was 9%, but this increased to 22.8% in diseased individuals. All 22 E. tarda isolates belonged to the 'wild-type' biogroup of the species and were virulent for eels (lethal dose that kills 50% of exposed individuals [LD50 dose]: 10(4.85) to 10(6.83) CFU ind.(-1)), and therefore represented the aetiological agent of the haemorrhagic disease observed in wild European eels. The E. tarda isolates and E. tarda CECT 894T type strain were biochemically and serologically related and resistant to macrolides, antifolates, and glycopeptides, but only the isolates from wild eels were resistant to clindamicyn. This study is the first description of edwardsiellosis in a wild European eel population, and alerts us to the presence of E. tarda in natural wetland environments in Mediterranean Europe.