The development of a whole-cell fluorescence-based biosensor for nitrate is reported. The sensor is Escherichia coli transformed with a plasmid (pPNARGFP) in which the promoter and regulatory regions of the membrane-bound nitrate reductase narGHJI operon (Pnar) are fused to a gfp gene encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP). Pnar-gfp activity was measured at a range of nitrate concentrations using whole-cell GFP fluorescence. The bioassay conditions have been optimized so that the fluorescence intensity is proportional to the extracellular nitrate concentration. The developed bioassay has established that E. coli (pPNARGFP) can be used for the quantitative determination of nitrate in environmental waters without interference from other electron acceptors, e.g., nitrite, dimethyl sulfoxide, trimethylamine-N-oxide and fumerate, and azide, an inhibitor of redox-active proteins.