Several methods for detecting or measuring negative chemotaxis are described. Using these, we have surveyed a number of chemicals for their ability to repel Escherichia coli. Although most of the repellents are harmful compounds, harmfulness is neither necessary nor sufficient to make a compound a repellent. The repellents can be grouped into at least nine classes according to (i) competition experiments, (ii) mutants lacking certain of the negative taxes, and (iii) their chemical structure. The specificity of each class was studied. It is suggested that each class corresponds to a distinct chemoreceptor. Generally, non-chemotactic mutants lack both positive and negative chemotaxis, and l-methionine is required for both kinds of taxis. Repellents at very low concentrations are not attractants, and attractants at very high concentrations are not repellents
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