Abstract The native microflora of fresh Swiss chard ( Beta vulgaris, type cicla) was quantified and characterized. The populations concentration of the different microorganism groups presented great variability among different lots, that was attributed to their separated histories. The mean populations of the native microflora were: 3.0×10 6 cfu/g for mesophilic, 3.25×10 5 cfu/g for psycrotrophic microorganisms, 9.23×10 3 cfu/g for lactic acid bacteria, 2.95×10 3 cfu/g for total coliforms, 1.21×10 4 cfu/g for yeasts, 4.75×10 3 cfu/g for molds and 4.2×10 3 cfu/g for staphylococci. The following species were identified: Micrococcus roseus, Micrococcus sedentarius, Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus pumilus, Alternaria spp., Botrytis spp., Aspergillus spp., Microsporium spp., Fusarium spp. and Trychophyton spp. Neither fecal nor pathogens were found. Immersion of Swiss chard leaves in tap water at 18 °C for 4 min reduced microbial populations but did not accomplish more than 70 percent removal in any of the populations under study.