Four species of Naegleria were tested for their ability to migrate under agarose. Pathogenic N. fowleri strains exhibited rapid locomotion at 37 degrees C. Environmental isolates of N. fowleri moved faster than clinical isolates which had been kept in axenic culture for longer periods, and this result was confirmed by using the 84-2205-7 strain kept in axenic culture for 1 or 5 months. Nonpathogenic N. gruberi strains migrated actively at 28 degrees C but not at 37 degrees C; moreover, even at 28 degrees C, active amoebae constituted only a small proportion of the whole. The temperature-tolerant, nonpathogenic species N. lovaniensis moved more slowly than N. fowleri at 37 degrees C. In contrast, N. australiensis, which is temperature tolerant as well as pathogenic for mice, migrated at a rate comparable to that of N. fowleri. There appears to be a direct correlation between the locomotive ability of free-living amoebae and their pathogenic potential.