An outbreak of gastroenteritis occurred in Italy among 39 persons who had attended a private supper. All guests were previously healthy, young, non-pregnant adults; 18 (46%) had symptoms, mostly gastrointestinal (78%), with a short incubation period. Four were hospitalized with acute febrile gastroenteritis, two of whom had blood cultures positive for Listeria monocytogenes. No other microorganisms were recovered from the hospitalized patients' specimens. Epidemiological investigation identified rice salad as the most likely vehicle of the food-borne outbreak. L. monocytogenes was isolated from three leftover foods, the kitchen freezer and blender. Isolates from the patients, the foods and the freezer were indistinguishable: serotype l/2b, same phage type and multilocus enzyme electrophoretic type. Eight (36%) of 22 guests tested were found to have antibodies against L. monocytogenes, compared with none of 11 controls from the general population. This point source outbreak was probably caused by infection with L. monocytogenes. Unusual features included the high attack rate among immunocompetent adults and the predominance of gastrointestinal symptoms.