Sanitation is an important problem in relation to the control of pests in urban environments. This investigation analysed the potential risk related to the presence of cockroaches and their capacity for disseminating bacteria in six different types of buildings: hospital nursing area and out-patient area, swimmingpool pool-side and toilet area, low-income flats and food-handling places. Fifty-six species of bacteria were identified from 157 samples. 14 of these have previously been reported as potentially pathogenic for man and vertebrates. Similarities were found between samples collected in (a) the hospital out-patient area and foodhandling establishments and (b) the hospital nursing area and flats. Pool-sides possessed a poorer bacterial flora. There was a greater bacterial specific diversity in food-handling establishments, flats and swimming-bath toilet area. Enterobacter cloacae, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Klebsiella oxytoca were dominant species in flats and the hospital nursing area. Therefore, cockroaches can play a role in disseminating bacteria, which they can carry passively on their cuticle.