To identify host proteins involved in Legionella pneumophila intracellular replication, the soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum was analysed. The absence of the amoebal RtoA protein is demonstrated here to depress L. pneumophila intracellular growth. Uptake of L. pneumophila into a D. discoideum rtoA(-) strain was marginally defective, but this effect was not sufficient to account for the defective intracellular growth of L. pneumophila. The rtoA mutant was also more resistant to high-multiplicity killing by the bacterium. A targeting assay testing the colocalization of L. pneumophila-containing vacuole with an endoplasmic reticulum/pre-Golgi intermediate compartment marker protein, GFP-HDEL, was used to analyse these defects. In parental D. discoideum, the L. pneumophila vacuole showed recruitment of GFP-HDEL within 40 min after introduction of bacteria to the amoebae. By 6 h after infection it was clear that the rtoA mutant acquired and retained the GFP-HDEL less efficiently than the parental strain, and that the mutant was defective for promoting the physical expansion of the membranous compartment surrounding the bacteria. Depressed intracellular growth of L. pneumophila in a D. discoideum rtoA(-) mutant therefore appeared to result from a lowered efficiency of vesicle trafficking events that are essential for the modification and expansion of the L. pneumophila-containing compartment.