A total of 149 patients with clinical symptoms of acute viral meningo-encephalitis were enrolled in this study from June 1991 to December 1993. Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) was diagnosed in 85 of the 149 patients (males 54%, median age 42 years (range 15-78)). The initial clinical appearance of TBE was classified as mild (mainly meningeal; (n = 47), moderate (n = 31) or severe (n = 7), more or less encephalitic. The most common acute symptoms of encephalitis were ataxia (26%), altered consciousness (20%), decreased concentration or memory (9%), irritable response to light and sound (28%), tremor (9%) and dysphasia (9%). Spinal nerve paralysis (11%) occurred in all three clinical stages and did not correlate with the severity or duration of encephalitis. The duration of hospitalisation, the time on the sick-list and the time to recovery were significantly longer in TBE patients. All patients survived, but many patients with TBE suffered an extended period of neurological dysfunction. Of patients with TBE 80% (68/85) showed persisting symptoms of CNS dysfunction on follow-up at week 6, compared with 55% (35/64) of the patients with aseptic meningitis of other aetiology. The corresponding figures after 1 year were 40% (33/83) and 20% (13/64). One year after TBE 13 (28%) patients with initially mild, meningeal symptoms had decreased memory and decreased concentration capacity, dysphasia or ataxia. Spinal nerve paralysis persisted after 1 year in 5 of 9 patients with TBE. In conclusion, TBE in Sweden is associated with a significant morbidity and a post-TBE syndrome existed after 1 year in more than one third of the patients.