Humans show pronounced individual differences in circadian orientation. Transcultural comparisons are interesting since biological (or environmental) factors together with cultural ones may contribute to differences in morningness–eveningness. We compared Spanish and German undergraduates using the Composite Scale of Morningness (CSM) to assess circadian preferences. Confirmatory and multiple groups confirmatory factor analysis were used to assess factor structure and structural invariance across countries. The results showed that a three-factor model of morningness best characterises the CSM structure of both samples. Partial factorial invariance (factor loadings) across countries was demonstrated for the factors ‘morningness’ and ‘morning alertness’. Scores of both factors were higher in German students. Potential cultural and biological explanations for the differences are discussed. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.