Protection of ground-water recharge areas against contamination is of great interest in Florida, a State whose population depends heavily on ground water and that is experiencing rapid growth. The Florida Legislature is considering implementation of a tax incentive program to owners of high-rate recharge lands that remain undeveloped. High-rate recharge was arbitrarily set at 10 or more inches per year. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the South Florida Water Management District, conducted a study to investigate the efficacy of several methods for estimating recharge to the surficial aquifer system in southwestern Florida and to map recharge at a scale of 1:100,000. Four maps were constructed at a scale of 1:100,000 for Lee and Hendry Counties, depicting the configuration of the water table of the surficial aquifer system, direction of ground-water flow, general soil characteristics, and recharge rates. Point recharge rates calculated for 25 sites in Lee County from comparisons of chloride concentrations in precipitation and in water from the surficial aquifer system ranged from 0.6 to 9.0 inches per year. Local recharge rates estimated by increases in flow along theoretical flow tubes in the surficial aquifer system were 8.0 inches per year in a part of Lee County and 8.2 inches per year in a part of Hendry County. Information on oxygen isotopes in precipitation and water from the surficial aquifer system was used to verify that the source of chlorides in the aquifer system was from precipitation rather than upward leakage of saline water. Soil maps and general topographic and hydrologic considerations were used with calculated point and local recharge rates to regionalize rates throughout Lee and Hendry Counties. The areas of greatest recharge were found in soils of flatwoods and sloughs, which were assigned estimated recharge rates of 0 to 10 inches per year. Soils of swamps and sloughs were assigned values of 0 to 3.0 inches per year; soils of tidal areas and barrier islands, soils of the Everglades, and soils of sloughs and freshwater marshes were assigned values of 0 to 2.0 inches per year; lastly, soils of manmade areas were assigned values of 0.5 to 1.5 inches per year. Small isolated areas of high-rate recharge (greater than 10 inches per year) might exist in Lee and Hendry Counties, but the maximum rate calculated in this study was 9.0 inches per year. Despite low natural recharge rates, lowering of the water table through pumping or canalization could create a potential for induced recharge in excess of 10 inches per year in parts of Lee and Hendry Counties.