An outbreak of antibiotic-associated colitis that occurred on a ward of a Michigan hospital during February-April, 1984, was studied by bacteriophage-bacteriocin typing. Stools from the seven involved patients yielded Clostridium difficile isolates of types B1537 or Cld7;B1537. C. difficile was recovered from 31.4% of environmental cultures obtained on the ward, and the majority of isolates were types B1537 or Cld7;B1537. When the ward was disinfected with unbuffered hypochlorite (500 parts per million (ppm) available chlorine), surface contamination decreased to 21% of initial levels and the outbreak subsequently ended. Phosphate buffered hypochlorite (1,600 ppm available chlorine, pH 7.6) was even more effective; its use resulted in a 98% reduction in surface contamination. These findings suggest that environmental contamination with C. difficile is important in the epidemiology of antibiotic-associated colitis, and that hypochlorite is effective in eliminating C. difficile from the hospital environment.