The enteropathogenicity of Vibrio parahaemolyticus was investigated by contrasting the effects of whole cells, cell fragments, cell-free preparations, and media constituents injected into rabbit ileal loops. Three of 20 cultures utilized were Kanagawa-negative strains from seawater and sea fish. The remaining 17 cultures included both Kanagawa-positive and -negative strains from Japanese victims of gastroenteritis. Broth culture filtrates concentrated 10-fold by dialysis against 30% Carbowax were unreactive, whereas lyophilized filtrates, regardless of Kanagawa type, as well as all sterile broth preparations containing greater than or equal to 5% NaCl gave positive reactions in the rabbit gut. In contrast, crude lysates derived from broth cultures of Kanagawa-positive strains caused loop dilatation; lysate supernatants were unreactive. Lysates of cells washed from brain heart infusion agar were more reactive than lysates from Trypticase soy agar-grown cells. When agar-grown cell lysates prepared by disruption in saline were dialyzed against distilled water, they were devoid of gut reactivity. Reactivity was restored in dialysands resuspended in saline and in dialysates concentrated 10-fold. The agar-grown cell lysates exhibited Kanagawa-type hemolysis. Our data support the conclusion that the rabbit loop reactivity observed with lyophilized, cell-free culture filtrates may result from excessively elevated NaCl concentrations, and that a toxic factor associated with large-cell particles may be dialyzable, depends on saline for expression, and resembles the Kanagawa hemolysin.