This is the first report of generalized transduction in the gram-positive, food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Bacteriophages were isolated from the environment and from lysogens, or were obtained from other laboratories. Of the 59 bacteriophages tested, 34 proved to be capable of transduction. We exploited the ability of L. monocytogenes to grow at room temperature and isolated bacteriophages that were incapable of growth at 37 degrees C. Transductions at this temperature therefore eliminated transductant killing and lysogeny, as did inclusion of citrate and the use of a low multiplicity of infection. Transducing bacteriophages were found for each of the well-characterized L. monocytogenes strains: EGD, 10403, Mack (serotype1/2a), L028 (serotype 1/2c), Scott A (serotype 4b) and strains from the Jalisco and Halifax, Nova Scotia outbreaks (serotype 4b). P35 (phiLMUP35) is a particularly useful generalized transducing bacteriophage with a wide host range (75% of all serotype 1/2 strains tested). Its disadvantages are that it is small and transduction is relatively infrequent. U153(phiCU-SI153/95) is larger than P35 and transduction frequency increased 100-fold, but it has a very narrow host range. We demonstrated interstrain transduction and used transduction to test linkage between transposon insertions and mutant phenotypes in a variety of strains.