Campylobacter jejuni is a common cause of human gastrointestinal illness throughout the world. Infections with C. jejuni and Campylobacter coli are frequently acquired by eating undercooked chicken. The ability of C. jejuni to become established in the gastrointestinal tract of chickens is believed to involve binding of the bacterium to the gastrointestinal surface. A 37-kD outer membrane protein, termed CadF, has been described that facilitates the binding of Campylobacter to fibronectin. This study was conducted to determine whether the CadF protein is required for C. jejuni to colonize the cecum of newly hatched chicks. Day-of-hatch chicks were orally challenged with C. jejuni F38011, a human clinical isolate, or challenged with a mutant in which the cadF gene was disrupted via homologous recombination with a suicide vector. This method of mutagenesis targets a predetermined DNA sequence and does not produce random mutations in unrelated genes. The parental C. jejuni F38011 readily colonized the cecum of newly hatched chicks. In contrast, the cadF mutant was not recovered from any of 60 chicks challenged, indicating that disruption of the cadF gene renders C. jejuni incapable of colonizing the cecum. CadF protein appears to be required for the colonization of newly hatched leghorn chickens.