A simple, high frequency chromosomal gene replacement method of general utility was developed for Salmonella enteritidis. This system uses an unstable, imperfectly segregating, temperature-sensitive replicon, pHSG415, as a carrier of the recombinant gene of interest. It also allows for site-specific replacement of chromosomal genes without the need for antibiotic resistance markers in the recombinant genes or the use of specific bacterial strains. This strategy was used to replace the chromosomal sefA and agfA fimbrin genes of S. enteritidis 3b with recombinant genes containing a 48 bp DNA fragment encoding PT3, an immunoprotective T-cell epitope from GP63 of Leishmania major. The fidelity of chimeric fimbrial replacements were confirmed by DNA sequence analysis. Nearly 30% of the S. enteritidis clones selected in the final stage of sefA mutagenesis contained the sefA::PT3 recombinant gene, whereas for agfA the efficiency was as high as 10%. To our knowledge, this is the first report of fimbrial epitope replacement in the Salmonellae and the first chimeric fimbrin genes that have been reconstituted into a wild-type genetic background for any organism. As such, this model represents a promising 'organelle' expression system for epitope display in vaccinology.