The results of samples collected from private and government fish farms and wild and feral fish populations in Ontario from 1981 to 1995 were synthesized to obtain prevalence estimates in salmonids at both the fish and site levels for three pathogens. Renibacterium salmoninarum and Aeromonas salmonicida were both detected on at least one site for every year investigated. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) culture stations had the highest percentages of sites with infected fish for R. salmoninarum. Natural water bodies had the highest percentages of sites with infected fish for A. salmonicida. Infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV) was only detected sporadically on some commercial farms and never in OMNR hatcheries or in wild or feral fish. Although screening for any virus that would yield cytopathological effect was carried out during all the years surveyed, no virus other than IPNV was isolated. The low prevalence and "source-specific" presence of IPNV in Ontario demonstrates the necessity of representative sampling for the detection of rare pathogens. It was estimated that, overall, less than 1% of all fish in the sampled populations were infected with each of the three pathogens for almost every year studied. The importance of summarizing pathogen-testing data and the possible implications on disease control policy planning and assessment are discussed.