This study characterizes the transmigration of enteroinvasive Salmonella typhi in vitro, using a human intestinal epithelial cell line as a model of small intestinal epithelium. C2BBe cells, a subclone of CACO-2 with a highly differentiated enterocytic phenotype, were grown to maturity on Transwell filters. S. typhi Ty2 and the vaccine strain, Ty21a, the S. typhi mutant X7344 and parent strain SB130, and S. typhimurium 5771 in logarithmic phase were introduced to the upper chamber of the filter units. Numbers of bacteria in the lower chamber, TER and permeability of the monolayer to mannitol were measured over time. Monolayers were examined by light, electron and confocal microscopy to determine the pathway of bacterial transmigration, and intracellular bacteria were estimated by gentamicin assay. Epithelial cell injury was quantified by light microscopy. S. typhi transmigrated earlier and in larger numbers than S. typhimurium, inducing marked changes in electrical resistance and permeability. Unlike S. typhimurium, S. typhi selected epithelial cells in small number and caused their death and extrusion from the monolayers leaving holes through which S. typhi transmigrated. Ty2 consistently transmigrated in larger numbers and with more injury to monolayers than Ty21a. S. typhi crosses the monolayers of C2BBe cells by a paracellular route in contrast to the transcellular pathway described for other Salmonellae. This may be related to the unique pathophysiology of S. typhi infection and the restricted host specificity of this pathogen. In these assays the vaccine strain, Ty21a, is slightly less invasive than its parent, though more invasive than S. typhimurium.