APPENDIX 3A Cell Counting

  1. Mary C. Phelan1,
  2. Gretchen Lawler2

Published Online: 1 MAY 2001

DOI: 10.1002/0471142956.cya03as00

Current Protocols in Cytometry

Current Protocols in Cytometry

How to Cite

Phelan, M. C. and Lawler, G. 2001. Cell Counting. Current Protocols in Cytometry. 00:3A:A.3A.1–A.3A.4.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Thompson Children's Hospital, Chattanooga, Tennessee

  2. 2

    Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAY 2001
  2. Published Print: APR 1997


This unit presents protocols for counting cells using either a hemacytometer or electronically using a Coulter counter. Cell counting with a hemacytometer permits effective discrimination of live from dead cells using trypan blue exclusion. In addition, the procedure is less subject to errors arising from cell clumping or size heterogeneity. Counting cells is more quickly and easily performed using an electronic counter, but live-dead discrimination is unreliable. Cell populations containing large numbers of dead cells and/or cell clumps are difficult to count accurately. In addition, electronic counting requires resetting of the instrument for cell populations of different sizes; heterogeneous populations can give rise to inaccurate counts, and resting and activated cells may require counting at separate settings. In general, electronic cell counting is best performed on fresh peripheral blood cells.