A simple and sensitive method based on the use of colloidal chitin stained with Remazol Brilliant Blue R® (RBB) is proposed to evaluate chitinase activity. If this colloidal-stained substrate is included as a carbon source in a liquid medium, this technique allows the selection or the comparison of chitinolytic microorganisms. The colloidal substrate is proportionally solubilized and the dye released is spectrophotometrically quantified at 595 nm. The procedures used for the staining and fixing of RBB in the colloidal chitin, and a comparison with the commercial substrate chitin-azure®, are presented. The influence of several physicochemical and enzymatic parameters on the release of dyes is also shown. Both stained substrates were used for studying the effect of pH, substrate concentration, temperature and time on the chitinase reaction of Bacillus thuringiensis Bt-107. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.