To estimate the prevalence and distribution of salmonellae, especially Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis), in Western Japan, an investigation was conducted of the chicken industry and environmental sources between 1995 and 1998. Salmonellae were isolated from 34 of 90 samples (37·8 %) of raw chicken parts, 34 of 98 faecal samples (34·7 %) at 35 broiler farms, 11 of 59 samples (18·6 %) of liquid eggs, and from 71 of 272 samples (26·1 %) of swab specimens from equipment and cracked or faecally soiled shell eggs at the processing facilities. Salmonellae, including S. Enteritidis, were also isolated from swab samples of henhouses associated with one of the shell-egg processing facilities (11 samples out of 55, 20 %). In the broiler meat production environment, S. Infantis was dominant. Twenty-two of 36 sewage samples (61·1 %) and 16 of 72 samples (22·2 %) taken from 5 rivers contained salmonellae including S. Enteritidis. S. Enteritidis isolates were analysed with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis using enzyme Bln I. Thirty-four isolates from shell-egg processing facilities and henhouses, obtained over several years, had the same pulsed-field profile as isolates obtained from four individual outbreaks that occurred in this location in 1997. One of the clonal lines of S. Enteritidis, among multiple serovars of salmonellae in the environment, was thought to have distributed in reservoirs, laying hens, for several years, and continued to cause outbreaks in this area.