Salmonella Typhimurium infections in pigs pose an important human health hazard. One promising control measure is the development of live attenuated vaccine strains using defined knockout mutants. Preferably, screening of candidate knockout vaccine strains for attenuation should first be done in models allowing testing of a large number of strains. Thereafter, a limited number of selected strains should be further characterized in an experimental infection model in pigs. The aim of the present study was to develop such models. The invasive and proliferative characteristics of S. Typhimurium were assessed in both a non-polarized and a polarized porcine intestinal epithelial cell line. Neutrophils obtained from porcine blood were used to study the capacity of Salmonella to withstand killing by these phagocytes. The ability to induce an intestinal inflammatory response was investigated in a terminal intestinal loop model. The systemic phase of infection was mimicked by studying the uptake and intracellular survival of S. Typhimurium in porcine pulmonary alveolar macrophages and peripheral blood monocytes. These models should allow screening for attenuated strains. For further characterization, an experimental infection model was established, providing extensive data on the course of an oral infection and the optimal time points for colonization (day 5 postinoculation [pi]) and persistency (days 21-28 pi) in pigs. In conclusion, screening for virulence of S. Typhimurium strains with subsequent confirmation for a subset of strains in a well-defined experimental infection model would significantly reduce the number of experimental pigs required.