A new method of measuring the relative abundance of microorganisms by using a set of interrelated coefficients, termed 'abundance coefficients' or 'AC', is proposed. These coefficients provide a means of recording abundance for geometric density categories, and each density measurement represents an approximation of the Poisson parameter ??t. The AC is the natural logarithm of a 'characteristic value,' which is a particular number for each geometric density category. The 'characteristic values' are based upon a probabilistic error statement derived from the Poisson formula, and they present evidence for separation of the geometric category boundaries by e = 2.71828. The proposed AC provide a means for recording species abundance in a manner suitable for arithmetic manipulation, for population structure studies, and for the determination of practical limits for defining the presence or absence of a species. Further, these coefficients provide for both intrasample and intersample abundance comparisons. ?? 1977 Plenum Publishing Corporation.