In vitro assays contribute greatly to our understanding of bacterial pathogenesis, but they frequently cannot replicate the complex environment encountered by pathogens during infection. The information gained from such studies is therefore limited. In vivo models, on the other hand, can be difficult to use, and this has to some extent diminished the incentive to perform studies in living animals. However, several recently developed techniques permit in vivo examination of many genes simultaneously. Most of these methods fall into two broad classes: in vivo expression technology and signature-tagged mutagenesis. In vivo expression technology is a promoter-trap strategy designed to identify genes whose expression is induced in a specific environment, typically that encountered in a host. Signature-tagged mutagenesis uses comparative hybridization to isolate mutants unable to survive specified environmental conditions and has been used to identify genes critical for survival in the host. Both approaches have so far been used exclusively for investigating pathogen-host interactions, but they should be easily adaptable to the study of other processes.