Enhanced Raman scattering (ERS) from bulk Si and surface brilliant cresyl blue (Bcb) molecules was investigated by individual polystyrene (PS) microspheres placed on top of the samples. It is revealed that the Raman signal depends both on the microsphere size and the numerical aperture (NA) of the collection lens, and a maximum signal enhancement of ∼11- and 40-fold for Si and Bcb is observed, respectively, showing strong ERS effect. The different ERS behavior was elucidated by electromagnetic simulations using the finite element method. The present work also provides information on individual dielectric sphere for applications in microscopy, spectroscopic imaging and improvement, etc. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.