Objectives If the Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) bacterial load is higher in high-risk populations than in the general population, this negatively affects the efficacy of CT screening incentives. In the largest retrospective study to date, we investigated the CT load in specimens collected from 2 cohorts: (1) attendants of a sexually transmitted infection (STI)-clinic and (2) participants of the Dutch population-based screening (PBS). Methods CT load was determined using quantitative PCR in CT-positive male urine and female cervicovaginal swabs. CT loads were converted into tertiles. Using multinominal logistic regression, independent association of cohort, symptoms, risk behaviour and human cell count on load were assessed. Results CT loads were determined in 889 CT-positives from PBS (n = 529; 71.8% female) and STI-clinics (n = 360; 61.7% female). In men, STI-clinic-cohort, human cell count and urethral discharge were positively associated with CT load. In women, PBS-cohort and cell count were positively associated with CT load. Both cohorts had the same range in CT load. Conclusions The general population has a similar range of bacterial CT load as a high-risk population, but a different distribution for cohort and gender, highlighting the relevance of population-based CT-screening. When CT loads are similar, possibly the chances of transmission and sequelae are too.