In recent years, Salmonella enteritidis has become an increasingly important public health problem in Italy. In some parts of the country, the fraction of total human salmonella isolates accounted for by S. enteritidis has risen from 3–4% in the mid-1980s to more than 30% in 1990. Between 1090 and 1991. the number of reported S. enteritidis outbreaks increased more than sixfold. The 33 outbreaks reported in 1991 occurred in seven contiguous regions in northern and central Italy and were clustered in time between June and October: in the majority, products containing raw or undercooked shell eggs were implicated. Five of the egg-related outbreaks that occurred within a 30 kilometre radius over a 7-week period were investigated in detail. A phage type 1 strain containing a 38·9 MDa plasmid appeared responsible for three of the outbreaks, while in the remaining two a phage type 4 strain, also with a 38·9 MDa plasmid was isolated. Efforts are being made to enhance epidemiological surveillance and laboratory evaluation, and the use of pasteurized eggs has been recommended for high-risk populations.