The influence of different media and incubation temperatures on the quantification of microbial populations in sorghum, eucalyptus and forest soils was evaluated. Microbial growth was compared by using complex (tryptone soybean agar, TSA, casein-starch, CS, and Martin) and saline (Thorton, M3, Czapeck) media and incubation temperatures of 25 and 30 degrees C. Higher numbers of total bacterial and fungal colony-forming units (CFU) were observed in sorghum soils, and of spore-forming and Gram-negative bacteria in forest soils than other soils. Actinomycetes counts were highest in forest soil when using CS medium at 30 degrees C and in sorghum soil at 25 degrees C in M3 medium. Microorganism counts were dependent on the media and incubation temperatures. The counts at temperatures of 30 degrees C were significantly higher than at 25 degrees C. Microbial quantification was best when using TSA medium for total and spore-forming bacteria, Thorton for Gram-negative bacteria, M3 for actinomycetes, and Martin for fungi.