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Microwave irradiation at 2450 MHz inactivated the cells of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans suspended in a phosphate buffer. The rate of cell inactivation was proportional to that of the increase in temperature accompanied by microwave irradiation. The inactivation rates of E. coli and C. albicans were affected by addition of NaCl and KCl, but not by sucrose. The maximal inactivation effect was exerted at concentrations of 0.5-1.0 mol l−1, and the end-point temperature was the highest at the same salt concentrations. Correlation of both the electroconductivity and di-electric loss of ionic solutions with the heating by microwave irradiation was discussed.