Haulout behaviour of harbour seals, living at the northern limit of their distributional range on Svalbard, Norway, was investigated from June to August 2000 using a combination of low-tide counts performed during boat surveys, hourly counts through 12- or 24-h cycles at specific haulout sites, and telemetric data from 37 VHF-tagged seals. The largest aggregations of seals were found at Skarvnes, a site where numbers increased steadily through the summer, reaching a peak during the moulting period in August. At this site, season/date, time of day, tidal state and temperature all significantly influenced the number of animals ashore. At the second most frequented haulout site, at Soroya, season/date, time of day, temperature and cloud cover significantly affected the number of seals using the site. Pups were found predominantly at Soroya (7.8 pups+/-6.3 SD, N=53 counts); they were less common at Skarvnes (1.0 pups+/-0.2 SD, N=95 counts). Haulout patterns varied by age and sex class in accordance with the demands of lactation, mating and moult. Our limited data on mother-pup pairs suggest that they are closely associated during the nursing period, spending approximately 50% of their time hauled out together. Post lactation, most adult females left haulout areas for periods of up to several days. The haulout behaviour of adult males suggested that they adjusted their behaviour to follow female distribution and movement patterns during the breeding period. Most juveniles and adults of both sexes stayed ashore for prolonged periods during moulting, which took place first in juveniles, then in adult females and finally in adult males. The results of our study show that the basic haulout behaviour patterns of harbour seals at Svalbard are similar to this species' behaviour at lower latitudes.