In order to determine the initial bacterial contamination of corneal donor material the abraded epithelia from 125 donors, i.e., 250 globes, were examined immediately after enucleation. Of these, 49 (19.6%) were sterile, while 201 (80.4%) were contaminated. Monoinfection was identified in 174 globes and mixed infection in 27. The pathogen most frequently isolated was Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Neither the donor's age not the time elapsed between death and enucleation had any influence on the contamination rate. Prolonged hospitalization of donors leads to an increase in gram-negative bacteria. The necessity of antibacterial prophylaxis prior to keratoplasty is pointed out.