Investigators participating in the Epidemiologic Study of Cystic Fibrosis project began to collect microbiological, pulmonary, and nutritional data on cystic fibrosis (CF) patients at 180 North American sites in 1994. Part of this study was a survey undertaken in August 1995 to determine microbiology laboratory practices with regard to pulmonary specimens from CF patients. The survey included a section on test ordering, completed by a site clinician, and a section on test performance and reporting, completed by each site's clinical microbiology laboratory staff. Seventy-nine percent of the surveys were returned. There was intersite consistency of microbiology laboratory practices in most cases. The majority of sites follow most of the CF Foundation consensus conference recommendations. There were differences in the frequency at which specimens for culture were obtained, in the use of selective media for Staphylococcus aureus and Haemophilus influenzae, and in the use of a prolonged incubation for Burkholderia cepacia. These variations in practice contribute to prevalence differences among sites and may result in differences in clinical care.