Total direct and direct viable counts of fresh and injured cultures of Escherichia coli were determined by image analysis in preparations stained with acridine orange, ethidium bromide and 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenyl indole (DAPI). Cells stained with DAPI were not detected by image analysis. Fresh cultures stained with acridine orange or ethidium bromide gave comparable counts. Injured E. coli stained with ethidium bromide gave higher counts that with acridine orange. Injured cultures stained with acridine orange contain high proportions of green cells which are less easily detected than red cells in image analysis. In certain cases it may be better to use ethidium bromide, which stains all cells red, for direct viable counts by image analysis.