||Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio cholerae are human pathogens. Little is known about these Vibrio spp. in the coastal lagoons of France. The purpose of this study was to investigate their incidence in water, shellfish and sediment of three French Mediterranean coastal lagoons using the most probable number-polymerase chain reaction (MPN-PCR). In summer, the total number of V. parahaemolyticus in water, sediment, mussels and clams collected from the three lagoons varied from 1 to >1.1 x 10(3) MPN/l, 0.09 to 1.1 x 10(3) MPN/ml, 9 to 210 MPN/g and 1.5 to 2.1 MPN/g, respectively. In winter, all samples except mussels contained V. parahaemolyticus, but at very low concentrations. Pathogenic (tdh- or trh2-positive) V. parahaemolyticus were present in water, sediment and shellfish samples collected from these lagoons. The number of V. vulnificus in water, sediment and shellfish samples ranged from 1 to 1.1 x 10(3) MPN/l, 0.07 to 110 MPN/ml and 0.04 to 15 MPN/g, respectively, during summer. V. vulnificus was not detected during winter. V. cholerae was rarely detected in water and sediment during summer. In summary, results of this study highlight the finding that the three human pathogenic Vibrio spp. are present in the lagoons and constitute a potential public health hazard.