This paper aims at analysing the importance of local determinants to foreign direct investment (FDI) in three European regional case studies. The originality of the approach lies in the use of disaggregated data by sector and by region. The results are three-fold. First, regional demand and productivity are fundamental FDI determinants, confirming most studies with national data. Second, regional FDI inflows are more dependent on regional than national determinants. Finally, the effect of market potential measured with absolute gross domestic product (GDP) on regional FDI diminishes linearly with distance and does not when measured with GDP per capita. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.