The Viability of 18 bacterial strains desiccated on anhydrous silica gel and stored at a temperature of 22°C for at least 3 months was determined. According to their stability in the dried state, these strains could be classified into three typical groups. Group 1, containing Gram-positive strains and Salmonella serotypes, was marked by a very slow decrease of the concentration of culturable cells from day 14 on (respectively day 21 for Salmonella thompson. The rate of decrease expressed as regression coefficient (b) ranged from —0.000389 to —0.00521 log (cfp ml-1) per d. The Group 2 strains Enterobacter cloacae and Escherichia coli did not reach a comparable slow decrease in the dry material within the indicated time period. Regression coefficients were respectively —0.04406 and —0.03412 log (cfp ml-1) per d. The reciprocal values —(1/b) were respectively 23 d per log (cfp ml-1) and 29 d per log (cfp ml-1), indicating the time periods in which a reduction of 1 log unit of culturable cells occurred. Group 3 strains Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Aeromonas hydrophila and Aer. sobria were marked by a significant susceptibility to cell damage caused during desiccation and reconstitution. A high initial decrease (ID) of the concentration of culturable organisms seems to be a characteristic property of these bacterial strains: culturable organisms could not be detected after storage for 1 d (Aer. hydrophila, Aer. sobria) or 7 d (Ps. aeruginosa). The wide range of resistance of the different bacterial strains tested indicated that the silica gel model system is a suitable tool for microbiological challenge tests to investigate the survival of micro-organisms exposed to desiccation and their stability in dry materials.