A total of 332 Aeromonas spp. originating from drinking water (n = 75), fresh water (n = 57), chicken and ground beef (107), human faecal samples in association with travelling (n = 49), human faecal samples not associated with travelling (n = 38), and six strains from human blood cultures were studied by phenotypic methods and by using analysis of ribopatterns as a molecular method for the identification of the 13 known hybridization groups (HGs). Also included were the reference strains of each HG. A. hydrophila HG 1, A. caviae HG 4 and A. veronii biotype sobria HG 8/10 were the most important genospecies identified in human faecal samples. A. hydrophila HG 2 and A. media HG 5B predominated in drinking water and A. hydrophila HG 2 and HGS, A. media HG 5A and HG 5B predominated in fresh water. In drinking water only one isolate was A. hydrophila HG 1 and two isolates were A. caviae HG 4. Clinically important Aeromonas spp. HG 1 (A. hydrophila), HG 4 (A. caviae) and HG 8/10 (A. veronii biotype sobria) were common in chicken and ground beef. In contrast to the drinking water samples, HG 5A was common in chicken and ground beef samples. Atypical, unidentified isolates were most often found in fresh water samples (12/57 strains). Although water has been suspected of being an important source of human aeromonas infections, clinically important HGs were found to be in the minority among Aeromonas spp. identified in drinking water or fresh water. The distribution of Aeromonas spp. HGs among drinking water, chicken and ground beef samples was also different, suggesting that contamination of meat or chicken may not originate from water.