Despite the numerous investigations on the adhesion of microorganisms to buccal epithelial cells, it is difficult to correlate different results, as disparate adherence values have been reported for a given organism. As one reason for this disparity may be the indigenous or natural bacterial populations on human buccal epithelial cells, the effect of the latter on subsequent microbial adherence in vitro was examined. There was a highly significant correlation between the degree of natural bacterial colonization on pooled buccal epithelial cells from 8 healthy donors and the adhesion of a single isolate each of Streptococcus mitis, Escherichia coli and Actinomyces naeslundii. However, no such relationship could be established for Candida albicans, Streptococcus milleri and another isolate of Streptococcus mitis. As in previous studies, variation in adherence values was found, both between samples from different donors, and from the same donor over time, but to a far lesser degree in pooled samples from different donors. These results imply that natural bacterial populations on buccal epithelial cells may affect the adhesion values derived from laboratory experimentation, and hence such data should be interpreted with caution.