This literature study introduces the main ingredients of quantitative risk analysis (QRA) for pathogenic microorganisms in drinking water: hazard analysis, exposure assessment of dose-response relations, and risk characterization. While QRA potentially rationalizes the processes of setting environmental standards and assessing the severity of microbial contamination, the availability of reliable quantitative data becomes crucial. As such, QRA has the potential of growing into an important guidance force within the fields of drinking water quality control and public health. Opportunities for the implication of QRA into quality control procedures are discussed, special attention is given to the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, since this concept provides a possible framework for the embedding of QRA into process control of drinking water production facilities. The topics of risk perception and acceptance are discussed because of their relevance for defining the framework within which QRA operates (defining the choices, setting limits).