Research-intensive sectors such as pharmaceuticals are a favourite focus of regional policy thanks to their favourable growth prospects. Since, in Germany, the importance of the pharmaceutical industry for regional manufacturing centres and the range and levels of skills in the sector itself differ widely from region to region, it is particularly suitable for an analysis of how factors such as industrial structure and human capital influence the regional significance and skill structures of knowledge-intensive industries. The results of the study suggest that, when locating plants, pharmaceutical companies consider both the structure of local manufacturing and the local population’s level of education. However, other factors seem to be more important for the development of the regional employment structure.