In order to estimate the rate and seasonal variation of Enterocytozoon bieneusi contamination of surface water, sequential samples of water from the River Seine in France were collected during a 1-year period. Each sample (300-600 l) was submitted to sequential filtrations, and the filters were then examined for microsporidia using light microscopy and nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for E. bieneusi. Amplified products were hybridized with a E. bieneusi-specific probe. Twenty-five samples of water were analyzed during 1 year. Microscopic examination of stained filters proved unreliable for the identification of spores. Using nested PCR, 16 of 25 specimens were positive (64%). Unexpectedly, E. bieneusi was identified in only one sample by specific hybridization underlining the lack of specificity of ours primers. Nevertheless, using DNA sequence analysis, unknown microsporidia species were identified in eight cases, which had highest scores of homology with Vittaforma corneae or Pleistophora sp. This study shows a low rate of water contamination by E. bieneusi suggesting that the risk of waterborne transmission to humans is limited.