Bacterial abundance, distribution, and heterotrophic uptake in a freshwater aquifer contaminated by treated sewage were determined from analyses of groundwater and sediment-core samples. The number of free-living (unattached) bacteria in contaminated groundwater declined steadily with increasing distance from the source of sewage infiltration, from 1.94 ?? (?? 0.20) x 106 ml-1 at 0.21 km to 0.25 (?? 0.02) x 106 ml-1 at 0.97 km. Bacterial abundance in groundwater sampled at 0.31 km correlated strongly with specific conductance and increased sharply from 4.0 (?? 0.3) x 104 ml-1 at a depth of 6 m to 1.58 (?? 0.12) x 106 ml-1 at 14 m, then declined at 20 and 31 m to 1.29 (?? 0.12) x 106 and 0.96 (?? 0.12) x 106 ml-1, respectively. A majority of the bacteria in contaminated and uncontaminated zones of the aquifer were bound to the surfaces of particulates, <60 ??m in diameter. The glucose uptake rate, assayed at in situ and 5 ??M concentrations, declined steadily in contaminated groundwater sampled along a transect. A preparative wet-sieving technique for use in processing core samples for bacterial enumeration is described and evaluated.