The bacterial loads of air, surfaces, and personnel in clean rooms are routinely monitored using a set of standard media. Bacteria that can grow on these media are a tiny fraction of the total numbers in any environment. A substantial proportion of bacteria long thought to be unculturable were recently shown to be oligophilic. Oligophile counts in clean rooms in our studies exceeded the standard plate counts by up to 2 orders of magnitude. They responded to disinfection routines in ways similar to the responses of conventional bacteria. We suggest that oligophiles are better tools than conventional bacteria for environmental monitoring in aseptic pharmaceutical production units.