The genus Arcobacter is composed of 17 species which have been isolated from various sources. Of particular interest are A. butzleri, A. cryaerophilus, and A. skirrowii, as these have been associated with human cases of diarrhea, the probable transmission routes being through the ingestion of contaminated drinking water and food. To date, only limited studies of virulence traits in this genus have been undertaken. The present study used 60 Arcobacter strains isolated from different sources, representing 16 of the 17 species of the genus, to investigate their ability to adhere to and invade the human intestinal cell line Caco-2. In addition, the presence of five putative virulence genes (ciaB, cadF, cj1349, hecA, and irgA) was screened for in these strains by PCR. All Arcobacter species except A. bivalviorum and Arcobacter sp. strain W63 adhered to Caco-2 cells, and most species (10/16) were invasive. The most invasive species were A. skirrowii, A. cryaerophilus, A. butzleri, and A. defluvii. All invasive strains were positive for ciaB (encoding a putative invasion protein). Other putative virulence genes were present in other species, i.e., A. butzleri (cadF, cj1349, irgA, and hecA), A. trophiarum (cj1349), A. ellisii (cj1349), and A. defluvii (irgA). No virulence genes were detected in strains which showed little or no invasion of Caco-2 cells. These results indicate that many Arcobacter species are potential pathogens of humans and animals.