The dynamics of the adherent and nonadherent populations of three bacterial species on maize leaves were examined to identify the extent to which bacteria adhere to leaves and the importance of this adhesion to leaf colonization. Pantoea agglomerans strain BRT98, Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. nebraskensis strain GH2390, and Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae strain HS191R all rapidly adhered to maize leaves following inoculation, but differed in the percentage of cells that adhered to the leaves. Immediately following inoculation, the percentage of adherent cells was highest for the saprophyte P. agglomerans (8 to 10%) and was much lower for the pathogens C. michiganensis subsp. nebras-kensis and P. syringae pv. syringae (2 to 3 and <1%, respectively), although the results for P. syringae pv. syringae HS191R were based on only one experiment. In the 4 days following inoculation, the percentage of the P. agglomerans populations that adhered to the leaves increased to approximately 70%. Similarly, the percentage of C. michiganensis subsp. nebraskensis and P. syringae pv. syringae cells that resisted removal steadily increased in the days following inoculation, although these increases probably reflected both adherence and localization to endophytic sites. Based on differences in the percentage of cells adhering to several cuticular wax mutants of maize, the rapid adherence of C. michiganensis subsp. nebraskensis cells to maize leaves was influenced by the cuticular wax properties, while the rapid adherence of P. agglomerans was not. Finally, bacterial adherence to leaves was advantageous to P. agglomerans survival and growth on leaves based on the finding that the nonadherent populations of the P. agglomerans strain decreased significantly more than did the adherent populations in the 24 h following inoculation, and increased much less than did the adherent populations over the next 3 days. Similar results with the C. michiganensis subsp. nebraskensis and P. syringae pv. syringae strains indicate that bacterial adherence to leaves, bacterial movement to endophytic sites, or both were advantageous to the survival and growth of these strains on leaves.