Abstract Bordetella bronchiseptica grew from small inocula, and retained viability for at least 24 weeks, in unsupplemented lakewater or phosphate-buffered saline. From washed inocula of around 103 colony-forming units/ml, there was growth at both 10°C and 37°C to give 106–107 colony-forming units/ml. At 10°C, these counts were maintained with little diminution up to week 24 when observations ceased. In the tests at 37°C, two of three strains tested showed similar retention of viability. These results suggest that B. bronchiseptica may exist as hitherto unsuspected reservoirs of infection in freshwater habitats.