On 24 and 25 October 1995, high-resolution oceanographic measurements were carried out in the Strait of Messina by using a towed conductivity-temperature-depth chain and a vessel-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler. During the period of investigation the surface water of the Tyrrhenian Sea north of the strait sill was heavier than the surface water of the Ionian Sea south of the strait sill. As a consequence, during northward tidal flow surface water of the Ionian Sea spread as a surface jet into the Tyrrhenian Sea, whereas during southward tidal flow heavier surface water of the Tyrrhenian Sea spread, after having sunk to a depth of about 100 m, as a subsurface jet into the Ionian Sea. Both jets had the form of an internal bore, which finally developed into trains of internal solitary waves whose amplitudes were larger north than south of the strait sill. These measurements represent a detailed picture of the tidally induced internal dynamics in the Strait of Messina during the period of investigation, which contributes to elucidate several aspects of the general internal dynamics in the area: 1) Associated with the tidal flow are intense water jets whose equilibrium depth strongly depends on the horizontal density distribution along the Strait of Messina; 2) although climatological data show that a large horizontal density gradient in the near-surface layer along the Strait of Messina exists, its reversal can occur; 3) fluctuations in the larger-scale circulation patterns that determine the inflow of the modified Atlantic water into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea can be responsible for this reversal. As the tidally induced internal waves reflect the variability in the horizontal density distribution along the Strait of Messina, it is suggested that from the analysis of synthetic aperture radar imagery showing sea surface manifestations of internal waves in this area fluctuations of larger-scale circulation patterns in the Mediterranean Sea can be inferred.