The aim of this study was to investigate the survival of freeze-dried bacterial species stored at the International Patent Organism Depository (IPOD) and to elucidate the characteristics affecting survival. Bacterial strains were freeze-dried, sealed in ampoules under a vacuum (<1 Pa), and stored in the dark at 5 degrees C. The survival of a variety of species following storage for up to 20 years was analyzed. The survival of freeze-dried species was analyzed in terms of two stages, freeze-drying and storing. Nonmotile genera showed relatively high survival after freeze-drying. Motile genera with peritrichous flagella showed low survival rates after freeze-drying. Vibrio and Aeromonas, which produce numerous flagella, showed very low survival rates. In Lactobacillus, non-trehalose-fermenting species showed better survival rates after freeze-drying than did fermenting species, and those species with teichoic acid in the cell wall showed lower survival rates during storage than species with teichoic acid in the cell membrane. Human pathogenic species of Corynebacterium, Bacillus, Streptococcus, and Klebsiella showed lower survival rates during storage than nonpathogenic species within the same genus. Among Pseudomonas species, P. chlororaphis, the only species tested that forms levan from sucrose, showed the lowest survival rate during storage in the genus. Survival rates of Gram-negative species during storage tended to be lower than those of Gram-positive species, though Chryseobacterium meningosepticum had stable survival during storage. The conclusion is that smooth cell surfaces (i.e., no flagella) and lack of trehalose outside the cytoplasm improved survival rates after freeze-drying. Because desiccation is important for survival during storage, the presence of extracellular polysaccharides or teichoic acids is disadvantageous for long-term survival. The lower survival rates of freeze-dried Gram-negative bacteria compared with those of Gram-positive bacteria may be attributed to the thinner peptidoglycan layer and the presence of lipopolysaccharides on the cell wall in the former species.