High resolution X-ray computed tomography (CT), or microCT, is a promising and already widely used technique in various scientific fields. Also for histological purposes it has great potential. Although microCT has proven to be a valuable technique for the imaging of bone structures, the visualization of soft tissue structures is still an important challenge due to their low inherent X-ray contrast. One way to achieve contrast enhancement is to make use of contrast agents. However, contrary to light and electron microscopy, knowledge about contrast agents and staining procedures is limited for X-ray CT. The purpose of this paper is to identify useful X-ray contrast agents for soft tissue visualization, which can be applied in a simple way and are also suited for samples larger than (1 cm)(3) . And 28 chemical substances have been investigated. All chemicals were applied in the form of concentrated aqueous solutions in which the samples were immersed. First, strips of green Bacon were stained to evaluate contrast enhancement between muscle and adipose tissue. Furthermore it was also tested whether the contrast agents remained fixed in the tissue after staining by re-immersing them in water. Based on the results, 12 contrast agents were selected for further testing on postmortem mice hind legs, containing a variety of different tissues, including muscle, fat, bone, cartilage and tendons. It was evaluated whether the contrast agents allowed a clearer distinction between the different soft tissue structures present. Finally also penetration depth was measured. And 26 chemicals resulted in contrast enhancement between muscle and adipose tissue in the Bacon strips. Mercury(II)chloride (HgCl2 ), phosphotungstic acid (PTA), phosphomolybdic acid (PMA) and ammonium orthomolybdate ((NH4 )2 MoO4 ) remained fixed after re-immersion in water. The penetration tests showed that potassium iodide (KI) and sodium tungstate can be most efficiently used for large samples of the order of several tens of cm(3) . PMA, PTA, HgCl2 and also to a lesser extent Na2 WO4 and (NH4 )2 MoO4 allowed a clearer distinction between the different soft tissue structures present. © 2013 The Authors Journal of Microscopy © 2013 Royal Microscopical Society.