Jeux Sans Frontières returned for a second series since its return to TV with a change from 1988's line-up. Spain took a year out and were replaced by teams from San Marino. The practice of holding two heats in each venue continued, although this year, each of these second heats would feature different teams than those contesting the first. This meant the complicated aggregate scoring used to select the finalists in 1988 was dropped - and qualification reverted to highest scores for each country. The year ended with a two-part special edition, Jeux Sans Frontières: Giochi Sotto l'Albero ('Games Under the Fir Tree').

There was another change to the scoring system this year, with double points awarded on the final game. This idea was introduced to enable teams that were trailing the leaders to improve their chances of achieving a better placing in the heats. This new innovation would remain throughout the next ten years of Jeux Sans Frontières. Each heat consisted of twelve games, and in the same context as last year, the International Final had an extra game (thirteen in total).

The Jeux Sans Frontières opening title sequence remained unchanged from 1988, this despite the withdrawal of Spain and the addition of San Marino. Consequently, while one of the animated athletes pulling trailers behind them is shown in red (San Marino's colour, in common with Spain), the symbol of national recognition carried is that of Spain seen the previous year. Therefore San Marino received no recognition in the sequence, which also still displayed the series name in Spanish - Juegos Sin Fronteras - despite the fact that no Spanish speaking nation was involved in the 1989 series.

JSFnetGB Series Guide pages researched by
Alan Hayes, David Hamilton, Neil Storer, Christos Moustakas, Philippe Minet,
Sébastien Dias, Ischa Bijl, Paul Leaver and JSFnet Websites