One of the songs which failed to qualify for the 1988 German national final, "Das Beste" by male/female duo Duett, later became embroiled in controversy when it was entered by the same performers in the 1990 Austrian selection, which it duly won in dramatic circumstances after the female singer had appeared to faint onstage during the initial performance. When the song's previous history subsequently came to light, Austrian broadcaster ORF had no choice but to disqualify it as a clear violation of Eurovision rules, handing the 1990 Austrian ticket to original runner-up Simone Stelzer.
The final was held at the Frankenhalle in Nuremberg, hosted by Jenny Jürgens. 12 songs took part and the winner was chosen by a panel of approximately 600 people who had been selected as providing a representative cross-section of the German public. Among the other participants was Cindy Berger, who had represented Germany as half of Cindy & Bert in 1974.
On the night of the final the duo performed 11th in the running order, following Ireland and preceding Austria. At the close of voting, "Lied für einen Freund" had received 48 points (the highest being 8s from Iceland and Yugoslavia), placing Germany 14th of the 21 entries. The German jury awarded its 12 points to contest winners Switzerland.