Objective: To investigate regional variations in the frequency of undiagnosed thyroid disorders among 25- to 88-year-old men and women in two communities in the northeast and the south of Germany. In addition, autoantibodies to thyroperoxidase (TPO-Abs) and urinary iodine excretion were determined. Methods: Two population-based surveys of men and women using a common standardized protocol, the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP) in the northeast of Germany (2505 participants) and the Kooperative Gesundheitsforschung in der Region Augsburg (KORA) in the south of Germany (2316 participants), were compared with regard to the frequency of undiagnosed thyroid disorders. Results: Compared with the northeast of Germany, urinary iodine excretion and serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were significantly higher in the south. The median urinary iodine concentration was 110 mu g/l (64; 169 mu g/l) in SHIP and 151 mu g/l (97; 214 mu g/l) in KORA, and the median TSH value was 0.81 mIU/l (0.56; 1.15 mIU/l) in SHIP and 1.22 mIU/l (0.84; 1.80 mIU/l) in KORA. The frequency of elevated TSH (TSH >= 2.12 mIU/l) was 4.3% in SHIP and 14.1% in KORA (P<0.001); the corresponding values for suppressed TSH (<0.25 mIU/l) were 3.5 and 1.7% (P<0.001). The proportion of ultrasonographic findings was 55.5% in SHIP and 68.0% in KORA. The frequency of serum TPO-Abs did not differ significantly between northeast and south Germany. Conclusions: There were considerable regional disparities in the frequency of thyroid disorders within Germany. These differences can be explained not only by different regional histories of natural iodine deficiency but also by current differences in the iodine supply under an identical nationwide iodine fortification program.