Synovial cells from nine patients with reactive arthritis following Salmonella enteritidis or Salmonella typhimurium infection were examined for salmonella antigens. Extensive bacterial cultures of the synovial fluid were negative. Eight synovial-fluid cell samples stained positively on immunofluorescence with rabbit antisera against heat-killed S enteritidis or S typhimurium or with monoclonal antibodies specific for the causative salmonella lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Synovial tissue from the ninth patient stained positively in the avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex method with the monoclonal antibody. Control samples (synovial-fluid cells from thirteen patients with other rheumatic diseases and synovial tissue from two) were negative. Synovial cells from eight patients and five controls were studied by western blotting with the same monoclonal antibodies. Four of the eight patients but no controls had blots indicating salmonella LPS in the synovial cells. The presence of bacterial LPS in the joint is a common and pathogenetically important feature of reactive arthritis.