Aims: To synthesize and evaluate fluorogenic substrates for the detection of microbial nitroreductases. These substrates, all based on 7-nitrocoumarin, may be reduced to form fluorescent aminocoumarins. Methods and Results: Thirty pathogenic microbial strains, including both bacteria and yeasts, were examined for nitroreductase activity in a whole-cell assay. All strains readily reduced each of the seven substrates to generate fluorescence, suggesting the widespread presence of nitroreductase activity in pathogenic bacteria. Conclusions, Significance and Impact of the Study: These novel substrates facilitate the direct detection of nitroreductase activity and have potential as sensitive indicators of microbial growth.