Abstract ATP content, oxygen utilization rate (OUR) and fluorescein diacetate (FDA) hydrolysis were tested for the ability to express the amount of viable biomass in wastewater and activated sludge. The relationship between biomass and these activity parameters was established in growth cultures made by inoculating a nutrient medium with either wastewater or activated sludge. Biomass was then determined directly by measurement of dry weight of growth culture (dw), and compared to data obtained by using the previously mentioned methods. In the exponential growth phase, ATP content showed the best correlation with biomass, while FDA hydrolysis in the sludge failed to show any such correlation. Conversion factors of 3 mg ATP/g dw, 300 mg O 2/h g dw and 0.4 A/h (mg dw/ml) for ATP, OUR and FDA methods, respectively, were calculated. When the methods were applied for in situ determinations in four different wastewater plants, it was found that ATP content and respiration rate estimated viable biomass to range from 81 to 293 mg dw/g SS for raw wastewater and from 67 to 187 mg dw/g SS for activated sludge with a rather weak correlation between ATP and respiration measurements. The FDA hydrolysis estimated viable biomass to be higher than suspended solids, for which reason this parameter could not be recommended for determination of viable biomass in wastewater and activated sludge.