the objective of this study was to determine if trehalose can effectively enhance the viability and storage lifetime of rhizobium tropici and rhizobium etli after lyophilization as compared to the traditional protective combination of sucrose and peptone. two strains of bean-nodulating rhizobia were effectively preserved in the lyophilized state by 100 mm trehalose, and survived for at least 12 days, even when stored under non-ideal conditions. trehalose provided better protection than the sucrose/peptone combination. when protective excipients were introduced inside the cells, strain cfn 42 was more sensitive to the type of additive used than strain ciat 899, probably because ciat 899 produces b (1-2) glucan, which may have a protective effect. b (1-2) glucan combined with sucrose protected better than trehalose against leakage from freeze-dried liposomes, but by itself it had no protective capability. there was a high level of unfrozen water associated with the hydrated glucan, in addition to a thermal event at approximately 70oc, corresponding to an observed gel-sol transition in the glucan. these findings may shed light on the mechanism by which the glucan contributes to the protection of dried cells and liposomes, and may lead to further improvements in rhizobial inoculants.