Pathogenic Yersinia species are associated with both localized and systemic infections in mammalian hosts. In this study, signature-tagged transposon mutagenesis was used to identify Yersinia enterocolitica genes required for survival in a mouse model of infection. Approximately 2000 transposon insertion mutants were screened for attenuation. This led to the identification of 55 mutants defective for survival in the animal host, as judged by their ability to compete with the wild-type strain in mixed infections. A total of 28 mutants had transposon insertions in the virulence plasmid, validating the screen. Two of the plasmid mutants with severe virulence defects had insertions in an uncharacterized region. Several of the chromosomal insertions were in a gene cluster involved in O-antigen biosynthesis. Other chromosomal insertions identified genes not previously demonstrated as being required for in vivo survival of Y. enterocolitica. These include genes involved in the synthesis of outer membrane components, stress response and nutrient acquisition. One severely attenuated mutant had an insertion in a homologue of the pspC gene (phage shock protein C) of Escherichia coli. The phage shock protein operon has no known biochemical or physiological function in E. coli, but is apparently essential for the survival of Y. enterocolitica during infection.