Abstract The distribution of the zot gene that encodes the zonula occludens toxin, a newly described toxin of Vibrio cholerae, among clinical, environmental and food isolates of V. cholerae 01 and non-01 was investigated. Both the zot gene and the ctx gene that encode cholera toxin were found in 247 of 257 clinical strains and 62 of 415 environmental or food isolates of V. cholerae 01. The zot gene, but not the ctx gene was found in 37 strains (one clinical strain and 36 environmental or food isolates). In addition, two of 31 clinical strains and six of 98 environmental or food isolates of V. cholerae non-01 possessed both the zot gene and the ctx gene. These results demonstrated the predominantly concurrent occurrence of the zot gene and ctx genes among strains of V. cholerae 01 which suggests a possible synergistic role of ZOT in the causation of acute dehydrating diarrhea produced by V. cholerae 01.