Diagnostic electron microscopy has two advantages over enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and nucleic acid amplification tests. After a simple and fast negative stain preparation, the undirected, "open view" of electron microscopy allows rapid morphologic identification and differential diagnosis of different agents contained in the specimen. Details for efficient sample collection, preparation, and particle enrichment are given. Applications of diagnostic electron microscopy in clinically or epidemiologically critical situations as well as in bioterrorist events are discussed. Electron microscopy can be applied to many body samples and can also hasten routine cell culture diagnosis. To exploit the potential of diagnostic electron microscopy fully, it should be quality controlled, applied as a frontline method, and be coordinated and run in parallel with other diagnostic techniques.