Enhanced surveillance of meningococcal disease (ESMD) was implemented nationally across ten regions of England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 1 January 1999. It aims to deliver more sensitive surveillance than laboratory reporting by including clinically diagnosed but laboratory unconfirmed cases. Consultants in Communicable Disease Control (CsCDC) report all clinically diagnosed cases of meningococcal disease (MD) to the Regional Epidemiologist in the relevant regional unit of the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC). These reports are reconciled with laboratory data from the PHLS Meningococcal Reference Unit and then forwarded to the national CDSC where further reconciliation with laboratory data takes place. In addition, CsCDC are asked to report any clusters of MD that occur. Between 1 January 1999 and 30 June 2001, 12074 cases of MD were ascertained through ESMD. The majority (57%) were laboratory confirmed. The estimated incidence of MD fell between 1999 and 2001 from 9.2 to 8.0 per 100 000 population. Of laboratory confirmed cases, the number of cases of serogroups B and W135 increased and of serogroup C and of ungrouped meningococcal infection decreased. Variation between regions was considerable and deserves further investigation. Of 11 522 cases with a reported clinical diagnosis, 53.6% were diagnosed as septicaemia, 32.6% as meningitis, 12.5% as both septicaemia and meningitis, and 1.3% had other invasive MD. Between 1 January 1999 and 30 June 2001 698 deaths were reported, an overall case fatality rate (CFR) of 5.8%; 567 deaths were in confirmed cases and 131 probable (CFR 8.2% and 2.5%, respectively). CFR was higher in serogroup C (13.5%) than B (5.8%). No peak in serogroup C meningococcal infection occurred in the winter of 2000/1 and no clusters of serogroup C meningococcal infection were reported in the first half of 2001. ESMD provides information about the epidemiology of MD that is more complete than statutory notification and laboratory surveillance and is useful for evaluating the impact of the meningococcal serogroup C vaccination programme and of the other non-vaccine preventable serogroups.