Although approximately 95% of disease caused by nontyphoidal salmonella is transmitted by foodborne vehicles, four documented salmonella outbreaks in the 1990s have been traced to contact with young poultry. No environmental studies of source hatcheries were completed. This case-control study was performed by comparing culture-confirmed Salmonella Infantis in Michigan residents, identified between May and July 1999, with two age- and neighbourhood-matched controls. Eighty environmental and bird tissue samples were collected from an implicated hatchery; all salmonella isolates underwent pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis. The study included 19 case-patients sharing the same PFGE subtype and 37 matched controls. Within 5 days before illness onset, 74% of case-patients resided in households raising young poultry compared with 16% of controls (matched OR 19.5; 95% CI 2.9, 378.1). Eight hatchery samples yielded Salmonella Infantis with PFGE subtypes matching the patients' isolates. This investigation identified birds from a single hatchery as the source of human illness and confirmed the link by matching PFGE patterns from humans, birds and the hatchery environment. Subsequent public health interventions reduced, but did not eliminate, transmission of poultry-associated salmonellosis. Five additional PFGE-linked cases were identified in Spring 2000, necessitating quarantine of the hatchery for depopulation, cleaning and disinfection.