This paper assesses the degree of financial and economic globalisation of British and German pharmaceutical companies during 1990 and 2001 and explores the changing balance between globalisation and national embeddedness. It tries to explain both the much lower degree of globalisation of German as compared to British companies in 1990, as well as their catching up at the beginning of the 21st century. The paper suggests that the lesser degree of globalisation of German firms during most of the 1990s partly explains their slide in competitiveness during this period. The conclusion examines prospects for the future of firms in both economies. The paper draws on detailed industry data, as well as case studies of the major firms in the two national industries.