Bacterial overgrowth is one of the major concerns in collection and storage of biofluids, particularly 24-h urine. However, there is no previous systematic analysis of effects of bacterial overgrowth on urinary proteome analysis, and necessity, type, and appropriate concentration of preservatives to prevent bacterial overgrowth in the urine remain unclear. We, therefore, performed such systematic evaluation. Pooled normal urine was either centrifuged at 1500 g (to remove cell debris) or uncentrifuged. The samples were then added with either sodium azide (NaN3) or boric acid with various concentrations, and kept at room temperature (RT) or at 4 degrees C. Bacterial overgrowth was determined by UV-visible spectrophotometry (lambda620 nm) and Gram staining. At both temperatures, centrifugation to remove cell debris could effectively delay the bacterial overgrowth. At RT, both centrifuged and uncentrifuged samples without any preservative had the detectable overgrowth of Gram-positive and Gram-negative cocci and bacilli as early as 12 and 8 h, respectively, whereas 0.1-1 mM NaN3 and 2-20 mM boric acid could delay bacterial overgrowth, which started at 16-20 h in the centrifuged urine and 12-16 h in the uncentrifuged urine. Greater delay (for at least 48 h) was achieved with 10 mM NaN3 and 200 mM boric acid. At 4 degrees C, no bacterial overgrowth was detected in all centrifuged samples. However, it was observed at 20 h in the uncentrifuged urine without preservative, and at 48 h for the uncentrifuged urine with 0.1 mM NaN3 or 2 mM boric acid. There was no bacterial overgrowth detectable in the uncentrifuged urine preserved with higher concentrations of NaN3 or boric acid. 2-DE showed obvious changes in the urinary proteome profile of the sample with bacterial contamination, and the bacterial proteins could be identified by MALDI-TOF MS. Our data suggest that the urine should be centrifuged to remove cell debris and kept at 4 degrees C, rather than at RT, during the collection interval prior to long-term storage in the freezer. Moreover, the addition of 200 mM boric acid or 10 mM NaN3 is highly recommended for the prevention of bacterial overgrowth in the urine.