About 15 areas were observed in the equatorial regions of Mars by the infrared spectrometers IRS (Mariner 6 and 7) and ISM (Phobos-2). The comparison between the spectra shows a remarkable consistency between two data sets acquired 20 years apart and calibrated independently. This similarity demonstrates the accuracy of ISM calibration above 2 ??m, except for a possible stray light contribution above 2.6 ??m, on the order of ~1-2% of the solar flux at 2.7 ??m. Most differences in spectral shapes are related to differences in spectral/spatial resolution and viewing geometries. No important variation in surface properties is detected, except for a spot in southern Arabia Terra which has a much deeper hydration feature in IRS spectra; differences in viewing geometries and spatial resolutions do not seem to account for this difference that could result from shifting or dehydration of surface materials. Composite spectra of several types of bright and dark materials are computed by modeling the thermal emission and are completed with telescopic spectra in the visible range. Modeled reflectance in the 3.0-5.7 ??m range is consistent with basalts and palagonites. The bright regions and analog palagonite spectra are different from hematite in this range, but resemble several phyllosilicates. We infer that (1) although hematite dominates the spectra in the 0.4- to 2.5-??m range, the silicate-clay host is spectrally active beyond 3 ??m and can be identified from this domain; (2) phyllosilicates such as montmorillonite or smectite may be abundant components of the martian soils, although the domain below 3 ??m lacks the characteristic features of the most usual terrestrial clay minerals. ?? 1997 Academic Press.