The osmoprotectant betaine was incorporated into collection fluid and enumeration medium to determine its effects on the colony-forming abilities of airborne bacteria, which were collected from three separate locations: a wastewater treatment plant, the roof of a laboratory building, and an unobstructed farmland. At all locations, addition of 2 to 5 mM betaine caused a significant increase (from 21.6 to 61.3%) in colonial outgrowth, compared with the growth rate of controls without betaine. The presence of betaine in both the collection fluid and the enumeration medium had an additive effect on the colony-forming ability of airborne bacteria compared with the presence of betaine in either one alone. The effect of various betaine concentrations on the enumeration of aerosolized Pseudomonas syringae was determined. Betaine showed a threshold for maximum effect at a concentration of 2 to 5 mM. The significance of these results with respect to the development of protocols for monitoring airborne microorganisms, including genetically engineered microorganisms, is discussed.