We present the use of a microfabricated device for impedance-based detection of a few live bacterial cells. Impedance-based detection relies on measuring changes in the AC impedance of two electrodes immersed in a liquid were the bacteria are cultured, caused by the release of ionic species by metabolizing bacterial cells. Rapid detection of a few cells (1 to 10) is possible if the cells are confined into a volume on the order of nanoliters. A microfluidic biochip prototype has been fabricated to test this miniaturized assay. The conductance of the bacterial suspensions is extracted from measuring their complex impedance in a 5.27 nl chamber in the biochip, at several frequencies between 100 Hz and 1 MHz. Measurements on suspensions of the bacteria Listeria innocua, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli in a low conductivity buffer demonstrate that, under the current experimental conditions, the minimum detection level is between 50 and 200 live cells, after two hours of off-chip incubation. Work is in progress to develop techniques for selective capture of bacteria inside the chip, and to minimize background changes in impedance during on-chip incubation.