[en] The bacteria that cause cholera are known to be normal inhabitants of surface water, however, the environmental risk factors for different biotypes of cholera are not well understood. This study identifies environmental risk factors for cholera in an endemic area of Bangladesh using a geographic information systems (GIS) approach. The study data were collected from a longitudinal health and demographic surveillance system and the data were integrated within a geographic information system database of the research area. Two study periods were chosen because they had different dominant biotypes of the disease. From 1992 to 1996 El Tor cholera was dominant and from 1983 to 1987 classical cholera was dominant. The study found the same three risk factors for the two biotypes of cholera including proximity to surface water, high population density, and poor educational level. The GIS database was used to measure the risk factors and spatial filtering techniques were employed. These robust spatial methods are offered as an example for future epidemiological research efforts that define environmental risk factors for infectious diseases. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.