Cyanobacterial mass occurrences (water blooms) cause ecological, economic and health problems worldwide. Still, little is known about heterotrophic bacteria associated with cyanobacteria and the interactions between those organisms. We isolated 460 bacterial strains from more than 40 lakes and rivers (151 samples), Baltic Sea (32 samples) and treated drinking water of seven treatment plants (29 samples). The water bodies and the raw water of the treatment plants were frequently dominated by high numbers of cyanobacteria. Various growth media were used to isolate the strains. Analysis of partial 16S rRNA gene fragments (701-905 bp for 358 strains and 413-497 bp for 102 strains) classified the isolated bacteria as Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes and Deinococcus-Thermus. Some of these isolates represented possible new bacterial orders, families, genera or species. We isolated various potentially pathogenic bacteria, such as Aeromonas, Vibrio, Acinetobacter and Pseudomonas, that may cause adverse health effects in humans and animals and should be taken into consideration when assessing the risks caused by cyanobacterial blooms. Several strains also inhibited or enhanced the growth of cyanobacteria. Most of such strains had an enhancing effect on the cyanobacterial growth. Other isolates were affiliated with genera such as Sphingomonas or Flavobacterium, which include strains that are capable of degrading cyanobacterial toxins or other recalcitrant and problematic organic compounds. The isolated strains provide a large group of bacteria that could be used in assessing and controlling the harmful effects of cyanobacteria.