An influenza survey was conducted in seven sentinel sites in Dakar, Senegal from June 1996 to December 1998. Throat or nasal swab cultures were randomly collected from 804 patients suffering from influenza-like symptoms. Influenza viruses were isolated at a similar proportion in adults and in children (P = 0.29). Strains of influenza B viruses were isolated from sporadic cases in 1997, whereas type A virus was associated with an isolated peak. Proportions of influenza virus isolation varied from 17.5% to 40.0% between 1996 and 1998 during the peak period (July/September) of acute respiratory infection in Dakar. Rainfall, humidity, and temperatures rose during the same period. Influenza in Dakar seems to be an-all-age groups respiratory infection characterized by high transmission during the hot and rainy season. The antigenic similarity of the A(H3N2) and B viruses to those circulating elsewhere in the world at the same time was confirmed. However, the A(H1N1) strains were found to be more closely related to an Asiatic strain which had not been isolated outside Asia previously. Consequently, the strain close to the A(H1N1)/Wuhan/371/95 strain isolated in Dakar was included in the composition of the 1998/1999 influenza vaccine. This reinforces the importance of setting up a national influenza control strategy in tropical regions.