A virological survey was carried out to establish the distribution of classical swine fever (CSF) virus among wild boar in the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany. Organ materials and blood samples were collected from 11 670 wild boar shot or found dead during the period March 1995 to December 1997. In total 211 (1.8%) wild boar were positive for CSF virus or antigen. The incidence of CSF-positive animals decreased continuously from 4.6% at the beginning of the epidemic in 1995 to 0.7% in 1997. The highest incidence of positive animals (22%) was found in wild-boar piglets younger than 3 months of age in 1995. The findings were indicative for the decisive role which young wild boar play in the epidemiology of CSF. Following intrauterine transfer some of the wild-boar piglets were probably persistently infected with CSF virus as experienced experimentally. Such piglets can be held responsible for CSF virus perpetuation within the wild-boar population. No CSF virus was isolated from adult wild boar weighing more than 75 kg. During 3 years of monitoring a sufficient number of susceptible wild boar, in particular young animals, was available to maintain the infection chain in that area. It was concluded that persistently infected piglets and the high population density of wild boar in the Brandenburg region offered optimal conditions for the establishment of an CSF epidemic.