Previously, we demonstrated that children in day care centers commonly experience diarrhea due to rotavirus, giardia, and bacterial pathogens. Multiple agents frequently coexist, and the environment is heavily contaminated with enteric bacteria during outbreaks. A study of environmental surface contamination with rotavirus was performed during three non-outbreak periods. Of 25 samples collected from environmental surfaces and teachers hands at a day care center, 4 (16%) were positive for rotavirus antigen when a fluorescence assay was used. We also examined the survival of two animal viruses, rotavirus SA-11 and poliovirus type 1, and bacteriophage 12 on similar environmental surfaces in a laboratory. Poliovirus type 1 and bacteriophage f2 were more resistant to drying than rotavirus SA-11 and could be recovered after a 90-min exposure on a dry surface. Rotavirus SA-11 could be detected for 30 min. All three viruses survived longer when they were suspended in fecal material than when they were suspended in distilled water. These data suggest that several agents, including rotavirus, can remain viable on contaminated surfaces long enough to be transmitted to susceptible children. This finding helps explain why rotavirus shows a mode of spread like that of parasitic and bacterial agents within day care center settings.