Three commercial gas-generating systems--CampyGen (Oxoid, UK), Oxoid BR56 (Oxoid, UK), and CampyPak Plus (Becton Dickinson, USA)--and the evacuation replacement technique were compared for the recovery of Campylobacter spp. from 500 human faecal samples collected from patients with gastroenteritis. Four hundred fifty faecal samples were tested upon receipt in the laboratory. Fifty faecal samples that had been previously found to be positive for Campylobacter spp. were tested retrospectively; these had been stored at 4 degrees C for more than 48 h. A total of 41 (9.1%) of the fresh faecal samples and 41 of 50 (82%) of the stored faecal samples were positive for thermophilic campylobacters. The CampyGen, the Oxoid BR56, the CampyPak Plus, and the evacuation replacement system detected Campylobacter spp. in 40 (97.6%), 39 (95.1%), 41 (100%), and 41 (100%) of the positive fresh faecal samples and in 37 (90.2%), 40 (97.6%), 39 (95.1%), and 40 (97.6%) of the stored samples, respectively. There was no statistical difference in performance of any of the four gas systems used (p = 0.98; chi-square test). Eighty-six percent of the isolates were Campylobacter jejuni and 14% were Campylobacter coli. Biotyping and phage typing of the isolates demonstrated that they were of a diverse range of subtypes. This study demonstrates that thermophilic campylobacters can be isolated from human diarrhoeal faecal samples using any of the four microaerobic-atmosphere-generating systems.