Strains of Xenorhabdus nematophilus and Photorhabdus luminescenswere genetically marked with kanamycin resistance and the xylE gene to aid theirdetection in water and soil. Following release in river water, cells declined to undetectable levelsin 6 d. In sterile river water, this decline was enhanced with cells detectable for only 2 d. In sterileMilli-Q purified water, the decline was slower than in either sterile or non-sterile river water.Survival in soil was also restricted with cells only detectable for 7 d. These experiments indicatedthat both X. nematophilus and P. luminescens have limited survival orcompetitive abilities in these environments. The faster decline of populations in sterile river waterwas unexpected, and the possible formation of specialized survival stages was investigated. Insterile water, a non-culturable but viable population of cells was detected, indicating that cellsmay survive longer than anticipated in the environment and remain undetectable using standardmicrobiological methods. The implications of this work to the use of these strains in biologicalcontrol and the release of genetically-modified micro-organisms is discussed.