Temporal changes in the occurrence of extreme events in time series of observed precipitation are investigated. The analysis is based on a European gridded data set and a German station-based data set of recent monthly totals (1896=1899–1995=1998). Two approaches are used. First, values above certain defined thresholds are counted for the first and second halves of the observation period. In the second step time series components, such as trends, are removed to obtain a deeper insight into the causes of the observed changes. As an example, this technique is applied to the time series of the German station Eppenrod. It arises that most of the events concern extreme wet months whose frequency has significantly increased in winter. Whereas on the European scale the other seasons also show this increase, especially in autumn, in Germany an insignificant decrease in the summer and autumn seasons is found. Moreover it is demonstrated that the increase of extreme wet months is reflected in a systematic increase in the variance and the Weibull probability density function parameters, respectively.