The incidence of bacteremia induced by transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and, consequently, the need for an antibiotic prophylaxis before TEE is still controversial. Therefore, we studied the incidence of bacteremia associated with TEE prospectively in 100 consecutive patients without clinical or laboratory signs of bacterial infection. Blood samples were drawn immediately before and at 0, 5, and 15 minutes after TEE. In addition, swabs were taken from the pharyngeal region before TEE and from the distal part of the TEE-probe before and after TEE. All blood cultures taken before TEE remained sterile. After TEE, three positive blood cultures were found in two patients: the first patient had two different species of coagulase-negative staphylococci in cultures taken at 0 minutes (Staphylococcus capitis) and 15 minutes (Staphylococcus cohnii) after TEE, whereas the sample taken after 5 minutes remained sterile. In the second patient, Propionibacterium species appeared after 7 days of processing in a culture taken immediately after TEE, but not in the samples taken after 5 and 15 minutes. None of the three microorganisms found in the blood were simultaneously isolated in pharyngeal specimens or TEE-probe specimens of the same patient. Thus positive blood cultures in both patients were considered contaminated. This study demonstrates that TEE, when performed by an experienced investigator, is not associated with an increased risk of bacteremia. Accordingly, it is justified to perform TEE examinations (also in high-risk patients) without antibiotic prophylaxis.