The relative effectiveness of two methods for the recovery of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) from jumbo and medium shell eggs was compared. The first method used in the comparison consisted of a preenrichment of the sample, and the second method was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Three bulk lots of blended, pooled eggs, each containing 220 liquid whole eggs that were thoroughly mixed manually were artificially inoculated with different levels of SE cells between approximately 10(0) and 10(3) CFU/ml. Twenty samples containing the contents of approximately 10 eggs each (by weight) were withdrawn from each of the inoculated bulk lots and incubated for 4 days at room temperature (ca. 23 degrees C). For the APHIS method, each sample was cultured by direct plating onto brilliant green (BG), brilliant green with novobiocin (BGN), xylose lysine desoxycholate (XLD), and xylose lysine agar Tergitol 4 (XLT4) agars. For the preenrichment method, 25-g portions from each pool were enriched in modified tryptic soy broth with 30 mg/liter of FeSO4. After 24 h of incubation, the preenrichments were subcultured to tetrathionate and Rappaport-Vassiliadis broths, and streaked to BG, BGN, bismuth sulfite, XLD, and XLT4 agar plates. SE isolates were confirmed biochemically and serologically. In all of the experiments, the preenrichment method recovered significantly more SE isolates (P < 0.05) of all the phage types and inoculum levels than did the APHIS method. From a total of 539 jumbo egg test portions analyzed, 381 (71%) were SE-positive by the preenrichment method and 232 (43%) were positive by the APHIS method. From a total of 360 medium egg test portions analyzed, 223 (62%) were SE-positive by the preenrichment method and 174 (48%) were positive by the APHIS method. The preenrichment method provided greater sensitivity for the isolation of SE in contaminated egg slurries than did the APHIS method.