In this paper, we study the inverse electromagnetic medium scattering problem of estimating the support and shape of medium scatterers from scattered electric/magnetic near-field data. We shall develop a novel direct sampling method based on an analysis of electromagnetic scattering and the behavior of the fundamental solution. It is applicable to a few incident fields and needs only to compute inner products of the measured scattered field with the fundamental solutions located at sampling points. Hence, it is strictly direct, computationally very efficient and highly robust to the presence of data noise. Two- and three-dimensional numerical experiments indicate that it can provide reliable support estimates for multiple scatterers in the case of both exact and highly noisy data. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.