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Bacteria were concentrated 500-fold from 20-liter water samples collected from 67 different lakes and rivers in the United States. The data suggest that Legionella pneumophila is part of the natural aquatic environment and that the bacterium is capable of surviving extreme ranges of environmental conditions. The data further demonstrate the effectiveness of the direct fluorescent-antibody technique for detecting L. pneumophila in natural aquatic systems. Smears of the concentrated samples were screened microscopically for serogroups of L. pneumophila by the direct fluorescent-antibody technique. Virtually all of the 793 samples were found to be positive by this method. The 318 samples containing the largest numbers of positive bacteria which were morphologically consistent with L. pneumophila were injected into guinea pigs for attempted isolations. Isolates were obtained from habitats with a wide range of physical, chemical, and biological parameters. Samples collected monthly from a thermally altered lake and injected into guinea pigs demonstrated a seasonality of infection, with the highest frequency of infection occurring during the summer months.