Two commercial swab transport systems, Copan Amies gel agar with and without charcoal (Copan Diagnostics, Corona, Calif.), were compared to direct inoculation onto modified Thayer-Martin medium for detection of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in 1,490 endocervical specimens obtained from women attending a sexually transmitted disease clinic. Copan swabs were held in the transport system for 24 h at room temperature prior to inoculation onto modified Thayer-Martin medium. All cultures were incubated at 35 degrees C in 5% CO(2), and bacteria were identified on the basis of Gram stain, oxidase, and biochemical reactions. Copan Amies gel agar transport system without charcoal detected 77 of 81 (95%) direct inoculation culture-positive specimens, and Copan Amies gel agar transport system with charcoal detected 53 of 56 (95%) directly inoculated culture-positive specimens. Copan Amies gel agar without charcoal inoculated after 6 h supported growth of 56 (98%) positive cultures out of only 55 directly inoculated culture-positive specimens. This study demonstrates that Copan swabs represent a reasonable alternative, providing convenience, low cost, and ease of use while still maintaining a satisfactory recovery rate of N. gonorrhoeae from clinical specimens, if specimens can be inoculated onto selective media within a relatively short time period not involving overnight shipment.