The growth phase of a bacterial (Salmonella typhimurium) culture was shown to have pronounced effects on the pathogenic properties of the harvested bacteria. Salmonellae obtained from a culture in primary (exponential) growth phase (PP) were more readily cleared from the blood and more readily killed by phagocytes than were salmonellae obtained from a more slowly growing secondary growth phase (SP) culture. PP salmonellae were observed to cause death of mice sooner than SP salmonellae. This appeared to be because the more rapid growth of PP, as compared to SP, salmonellae continued in the liver and spleen for several hours following intravenous injection, and more than compensated for their high in vivo death rate. As a result, within 4 h there were approximately 10-fold more live salmonellae in the spleens and livers of mice that had received PP, as compared to SP, salmonellae. This 10-fold difference was maintained until the death of the mice, indicating that after the first 4 h post-inoculation, the net in vivo growth of the salmonellae was the same regardless of their growth phase in the inoculating culture. This transition between PP and SP salmonellae occurred long before a dense stationary phase culture was obtained. Salmonellae grown in minimal media exhibited the biological properties of SP salmonellae and never entered as rapid a growth phase as did salmonellae in complete media.