Incrimination of vacuum-packaged smoked fish in outbreaks of botulism has raised questions about the safety of this process in comparison with other methods of packaging foods. It has been suggested, for example, that Clostridium botulinum may grow better in a vacuum-packaged product than in one that is packaged without vacuum. To evaluate this possibility, sliced bologna was inoculated with spores of C. botulinum type A, packaged in transparent plastic film with and without vacuum, and stored at temperatures within the growth range of the organism. There was no detectable difference in the rate of toxin development in the two types of packages. In contrast, vacuum packaging markedly inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus on sliced ham. The results indicate that vacuum packaging has little if any effect on the ability of C. botulinum to grow in cured meats, but it may reduce the likelihood of staphylococcal food poisoning.