The biological properties of Edwardsiella ictaluri RE-33 rifampicin-mutant and its parent strain EILO were analysed. RE-33 is an avirulent isolate used as a modified live vaccine against enteric septicaemia of catfish. Electrophoretic analysis of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) patterns showed high homology between both isolates. Further characterization of LPS by immunoblotting revealed the main differences in LPS composition. The RE-33 isolate lacks the high molecular weight bands of LPS (HMW-LPS). Outer membrane protein analysis also showed some immunological differences between RE-33 and the EILO parent strain. Only two fingerprinting techniques, fatty acid composition analysis and Biolog phenotypic profiles, were able to discriminate between both isolates.