In the present study, the use of aqueous polymer two-phase systems for separation of pathogenic bacteria from a complex food sample was investigated. Three different two-phase systems, a polyethylene glycol 3350/dextran T 500, a methoxy polyethylene glycol 5000/dextran T 500 and a polyethylene glycol 3350/hydroxypropyl starch system, were compared at pH 3 and pH 6 for their capacity to separate the pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella berta from a Cumberland sausage. In all three phase systems, the food particles partitioned to the lower phase. Best performance was obtained by the polymer combinations, polyethylene glycol 3350/dextran T 500 and polyethylene glycol 3350/hydroxypropyl starch. In these systems, Salmonella berta partitioned to the hydrophobic upper phase both at pH 3 and pH 6 with an average partitioning ratio of 80% and a recovery of 56%. Listeria monocytogenes partitioned to the upper phase at pH 3 only with an average partitioning ratio of 72% and a recovery of 45%. This method may become a valuable tool for separation of bacteria from complex food matrices.