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Lyme borreliosis, caused by spirochaetes of the Borrelia burgdorferi genospecies complex, is the most commonly reported tick-borne infection in Europe and North America. The non-specific nature of many of its clinical manifestations presents a diagnostic challenge and concise case definitions are essential for its satisfactory management. Lyme borreliosis is very similar in Europe and North America but the greater variety of genospecies in Europe leads to some important differences in clinical presentation. These new case definitions for European Lyme borreliosis emphasise recognition of clinical manifestations supported by relevant laboratory criteria and may be used in a clinical setting and also for epidemiological investigations.