Specific detection of a particular bacterium by immunofluorescence was combined with estimation of its metabolic activity by autoradiography. The nitrifying bacteria Nitrobacter agilis and N. winogradskyi were used as a model system. Nitrobacter were incubated with NaH14CO3 and 14CO2 prior to study. The same preparations made for autoradiograms were stained with fluorescent antibodies specific for the Nitrobacter species. Examination by epifluorescence and transmitted dark-field microscopy revealed Nitrobacter cells with and without associated silver grains. Direct detection and simultaneous evaluation of metabolic activity of Nitrobacter was demonstrated in pure cultures, in a simple mixed culture, and in a natural soil.