The 17th Congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology took place in Paris on 17–20 September 2008 and brought together nearly 11 000 participants. Various plenary lectures, subspecialty meetings, ‘free communications’, ‘top ten’, ‘test yourself’ and ‘junior’ sessions, 19 courses and 14 ‘lunches with the expert’, six forums, 27 symposia and 45 workshops were pressed into the 4 days of the meeting. Over 1700 posters were presented and exhibited. The themes of a number of symposiums, workshops and sessions overlapped, offering additional educational opportunities despite a very busy schedule. The meeting was well organized. Aesthetic dermatology comprised a significant part of the meeting. It is impossible to encompass all important presentations and we highlight a few medical pearls presented at the meeting; however, our report is not intended as a substitute for reading the conference proceedings and related references quoted in this article.