AIMS: To determine the prevalence of Pseudomonas fluorescens on the arms of blood donors, and to elucidate one possible cause for its predominance (60% of cases during 1980-89) in exogenous post transfusion septicaemia (PTS). METHODS: Skin swabs were taken from the arms of 782 blood donors and cultured on to heated blood agar. After incubation, Oxidase reagent and the Gram stain were used to select non-fermentative Gram negative rods, which were then subcultured and identified using the Analytical Profile System (API) 20 NE system. RESULTS: Non-fermentative Gram negative rods were found on the arms of 11.7% of donors, Pseudomonas spp on 1.0%, and Ps fluorescens on the arms of 0.3% of donors. CONCLUSIONS: This evidence emphasises the absolute requirement for efficient skin cleansing of blood donors' arms to minimise the risk of exogenous PTS.