The frequent occurrence of the cyanobacterial toxin cylindrospermopsin (CYN) in the (sub)tropics has been largely associated with cyanobacteria of the order Nostocales of tropical origin, in particular Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii. C. raciborskii is currently observed to spread northwards into temperate climatic zones. In addition, further cyanobacteria of the order Nostocales typically inhabiting water bodies in temperate regions are being identified as CYN-producers. Therefore, data on the distribution of CYN in temperate regions are necessary for a first assessment of potential risks due to CYN in water used for drinking and recreation. A total of 127 lakes situated in the north-eastern part of Germany were investigated in 2004 for the presence of the toxin CYN and the phytoplankton composition. The toxin could be detected in half of the lakes (n = 63) and in half of 165 samples (n = 88). Concentrations reached up to 73.2 μg CYN/g DW. CYN thus proved more widely distributed than previously demonstrated. The analyses of phytoplankton data suggest Aphanizomenon sp. and Anabaena sp. as important CYN producers in Germany, and confirm recent findings of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae as CYN-producing species frequently inhabiting water bodies in temperate climatic regions. The data shown here suggest that CYN may be an important cyanobacterial toxin in German water bodies and that further data are needed to assess this. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 22: 26–32, 2007.