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Staphylococcus epidermidis is a frequent cause of infection associated with the use of biomedical devices. Flow cell studies of the interaction between bacteria and surfaces do not generally allow direct comparison of different materials using the same bacterial suspension. The use of a modified Robbins Device (MRD) to compare the adhesion to different surfaces of Staph. epidermidis RP62A grown in continuous culture was investigated. Adhesion to glass was compared with siliconized glass, plasma-conditioned glass, titanium, stainless steel and Teflon. Attachment to siliconized glass was also compared with glass under differing ionic strength, and divalent cation concentrations. Both the differences in numbers adhering and changes in adhesion (slope) through the MRD were compared. There was a trend towards higher numbers adhering to the discs at the in-flow end of the MRD than at the outflow end, probably reflecting depletion of adherent bacteria in the interacting stream. Adhesion of Staph. epidermidis RP62A to siliconized glass and Teflon was reduced when compared to glass with increasing flow rates. Adhesion to stainless steel was not affected by flow rate and titanium gave a different slope of adhesion through the MRD when compared with glass, suggesting an interaction with different sub-populations within the interacting stream. Differences between siliconized glass and glass at flow rates of 300 ml h−1 were abolished by the addition of calcium or EDTA and reduced by the addition of magnesium. Increasing ionic strength reduced the statistical significance of the differences between glass and siliconized glass. Pre-conditioning of glass with pooled human plasma reduced adhesion compared with untreated glass and again gave a different slope to glass. The MRD linked to a chemostat can be used to compare directly bacterial adhesion to potential biomaterials. Variable depletion of the interacting stream should be taken into account in the interpretation of results. Divalent cation concentration, substrate properties and flow rate were important determinants of the comparative adhesion of Staph. epidermidis RP62A to surfaces.