Several conditions that allow the preservation, storage and rapid, efficient recovery of viable Acanthamoeba castellanii organisms were investigated. The viability of trophozoites (as determined by time to confluence) significantly declined over a period of 12 months when stored at -70 degrees C using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO; 5 or 10%) as cryopreservant. As A. castellanii are naturally capable of encystment, studies were undertaken to determine whether induced encystment might improve the viability of organisms under a number of storage conditions. A. castellanii cysts stored in the presence of mg(2+) at 4 degrees C remained viable over the study period, although time to confluence was increased from approximately 8 days to approximately 24 days over the 12-month period. Storage of cysts at -70 degrees C with DMSO (5 or 10%) or 40% glycerol, but not 80% glycerol as cryopreservants increased their viability over the 12-month study period compared with those stored at room temperature. Continued presence of Mg(2+) in medium during storage had no adverse effects and generally improved recovery of viable organisms. The present study demonstrates that A. castellanii can be stored as a non-multiplicative form inexpensively, without a need for cryopreservation, for at least 12 months, but viability is increased by storage at -70 degrees C.