The influence of low temperature vacuum drying process parameters on the survival, metabolic activity and residual water content of three different bacterial strains (Lactobacillus paracasei ssp. paracasei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus and Bifidobacterium lactis) was investigated. Shelf temperature and chamber pressure were varied and optimized by response surface methodology with regard to survival and residual water content. It is shown that the survival rate after low temperature vacuum drying is comparable to that of freeze drying. Based on the optimization experiments the combined influence of fermentation pH and drying process parameters was studied for the most detrimental and the best process condition, respectively. The results show that interactions between process and fermentation conditions have to be taken in account and that these influences are highly strain specific.