BACKGROUND : Borrelia burgdorferi (sensu lato) is a complex containing pathogenic bacteria of which some species, such as Borrelia lusitaniae, use birds, small mammals and reptiles as reservoirs. In Italy, the bacteria have been detected in reptilian and avian reservoirs in the northern and central regions. RESULTS : Here, 211 reptiles from three orders [Squamata (Sauria with seven species in five families and Ophidia with 11 species in three families), Crocodylia (one family and two species), and Testudines (two families and two species)] were examined for ectoparasites and molecular detection of B. burgdorferi (s.l.) in three different sites of southern Italy, an area for which no information was previously available on the occurrence of borreliosis in animals and humans. Borrelia lusitaniae was molecularly detected in larvae and nymphs (11.6%) of Ixodes ricinus infesting lizards (i.e. Podarcis muralis, Podarcis siculus and Lacerta bilineata) and in 12.3% blood samples of P. siculus. Finally, B. lusitaniae and Borrelia garinii were detected in 5.1% (32/630) of questing I. ricinus. CONCLUSIONS : These results show the circulation of B. lusitaniae in southern Italy and suggest that P. siculus could play a role as a reservoir, representing a potential medical threat to humans living in or visiting these localities.