A fluorimetric assay which enables direct and accurate analysis of the adhesion of bacteria to solid particles was developed. The assay is based on labeling of the bacteria with fluorescamine, which reacts with primary amino groups on the cell surface to yield a yellow fluorescence that is easily detectable by both fluorescence microscopy and spectrofluorimetry. As an example, fluorescent labeling of Rhodococcus strain GIN-1 (NCIMB 40340) cells enabled the detection and quantitative determination of their adsorption to TiO(inf2) and coal fly ash particles. Exposure of the cells to 10% acetone during the labeling reaction affected neither their viability nor their ability to adhere to these particles. Only a small fraction (^sim2%) of the total cell protein was labeled by fluorescamine upon staining of intact bacterial cells, which may indicate preferential labeling of certain proteins. Specificity studies carried out with the fluorescence assay confirmed previous findings that Rhodococcus strain GIN-1 cells possess high affinities for TiO(inf2), ZnO, and coal fly ash and low affinities for other metal oxides. In principle, the newly developed fluorimetric assay may be used for determination of cell adhesion to any solid matrix by either microscopic examination or epifluorescence measurements. In the present work, the adhesion of several other microorganisms to TiO(inf2) particles was tested as well, but their ability to adhere to these particles was significantly lower than that of Rhodococcus strain GIN-1 cells.