Much of the atmospheric variability in the North Atlantic sector is associated with variations in the eddy-driven component of the zonal flow. Here we present a simple method to specifically diagnose this component of the flow using the low-level wind field (925–700 hpa ). We focus on the North Atlantic winter season in the ERA-40 reanalysis. Diagnostics of the latitude and speed of the eddy-driven jet stream are compared with conventional diagnostics of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the East Atlantic (EA) pattern. This shows that the NAO and the EA both describe combined changes in the latitude and speed of the jet stream. It is therefore necessary, but not always sufficient, to consider both the NAO and the EA in identifying changes in the jet stream. The jet stream analysis suggests that there are three preferred latitudinal positions of the North Atlantic eddy-driven jet stream in winter. This result is in very good agreement with the application of a statistical mixture model to the two-dimensional state space defined by the NAO and the EA. These results are consistent with several other studies which identify four European/Atlantic regimes, comprising three jet stream patterns plus European blocking events.