Bacterial counts were monitored for 1 yr in bedding materials used on nine commercial dairies. Organic materials used to bed lactating cows had significantly higher moisture content and gram-negative bacterial, coliform, Klebsiella species, and streptococcal counts than did inorganic materials. Klebsiella species counts were higher in sawdust than in chopped straw. Streptococcal counts were higher in chopped straw than sawdust. Bacterial counts did not differ between sand and crushed limestone. Gram-negative bacterial and coliform counts were higher during summer and fall than in winter and spring months. Streptococcal counts did not differ among seasons of the year. Linear relationships were significant between total rates of clinical mastitis during lactation and both gram-negative bacterial and Klebsiella species counts in lactating cow bedding. These data indicate that bacterial populations differed between both types of bedding and among seasons of the year. Rates of clinical mastitis were related to bacterial counts in bedding.