Following the outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) at salmon farms in Scotland, UK, a survey was established to determine the extent of infection in wild fish. All fish tested were free from the clinical symptoms of ISA. Isolations of ISAV were made from 5 sea trout within areas where ISA affected salmon farms were located. Evidence for ISAV in other sea trout was provided by ISA RT-PCR diagnostic tests. Results from ISA RT-PCR tests reveal evidence for ISAV being present in salmon parr, adult salmon and juvenile brown trout in rivers distant from salmon farms and indicate that, at the time of the survey (1998-1999), ISAV may have been widely distributed. Nucleotide sequence analysis of segments 2 and 8 showed that for most sequences from wild fish there was 100% homology with ISAV isolated from clinically affected farmed fish although evidence is presented which indicates variability in ISAV sequences from wild fish. Modelling the RT-PCR findings indicates that ISAV among salmonid fish was spatially non-random. Brown trout, sea trout and salmon (adult and parr) show a pattern of occasionally large numbers of positive samples against a background of very low numbers.