Because samples are frequently submitted on swabs from distant sites, viability of the organism must be maintained. We compared two transport systems, a new Copan Liquid Stuart's swab with an Easy-Flow swab applicator and the Starplex Liquid Stuart's swab. The purpose of the study was to assess the release and/or recovery of organisms from the Copan system compared to that from Starplex. Triplicate swabs were seeded with 3 dilutions of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Although the amount of the initial inoculum was the same for both transport systems, recovery by the roll-plate method at time zero was consistently increased with the Copan system (31 to 87% higher). This is the most important finding in this study. With N. gonorrhoeae, subsequent recoveries were similar for Copan and Starplex but poor for both systems. With N. meningitidis and Haemophilus, higher levels of recovery were clearly obtained with Copan (P < 0.05 to P < 0.001). With Streptococcus, subsequent recoveries for Copan and Starplex were mixed. In conclusion, Copan generally demonstrated better recovery of organisms compared to Starplex even (and especially) at time zero.