BACKGROUND: High rates of antibiotic prescribing in paediatric populations represent a major issue because of the problem of antibiotic resistance. North European countries reported an appropriate use of antibiotics in general population; few studies on this issue have been conducted until now, especially in Italy. Therefore a comparison concerning paediatric antibiotic prescribing rates between an Italian administrative area in Tuscany (Viareggio) and the county of Funen (Denmark) was conducted. METHODS: Reimbursement data from 2003 were gathered from the Tuscany Health Authority database and from the database containing pharmacy dispensing data from the Danish Medicines Agency. All data were converted to Defined Daily Doses (DDD) per 1000 inhabitants per day (DDD/TID). Data were broken down by age, identifying four age groups: 0-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19 years. RESULTS: The overall prescription of antibiotics to paediatric patients from 0 to 19 years of age was higher in Viareggio (67 DDD/TID) than in Funen (35 DDD/TID). In Viareggio amoxicillin and amoxicillin plus enzyme inhibitors ranked in the first two places as the most frequently prescribed antibiotics in the whole population. Cephalosporins were also heavily used in Viareggio with cefaclor being the third most frequently prescribed antibiotic, especially in the 0-4 and 5- to 9-year-old age groups. In Funen, phenoxymethylpenicillin was the most commonly used antibiotic in all age groups, representing almost one-third of prescriptions, followed by amoxicillin. CONCLUSIONS: The paediatric antibiotic prescription rate is substantially higher in Viareggio compared with Funen. These data confirm possible overuse and misuse of antibiotics in the Italian paediatric population.