Salmonella has developed ways to modulate host cellular response in order to survive. Although the steps required for such modulation have been incompletely characterized, there is increasing evidence for a role for SptP, a type III secretion protein. In part, the actions of SptP are thought to be mediated through its reported inhibition of the extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) MAP kinase pathway. In the present studies, a series of transfections were performed in which various constitutively activated components of the MAP kinase pathway were co-transfected with SptP in order to determine the mechanism by which SptP inhibits this MAP kinase activation. SptP was found to inhibit the activation of ERK stimulated by both a constitutively active form of Ras and a partially activated form of Raf-1 containing a phospho-mimetic mutation (Raf Y340D). In contrast, the activation of ERK by constitutively active forms of MAP kinase kinase (MEK) was not inhibited, suggesting that the actions of SptP were mediated by Raf-1. In order to determine how SptP might interfere with activation of Raf, we utilized a membrane-localized form of Raf. Constitutive membrane-localization of Raf (RafCAAX), resulting in partial activation, did not prevent inhibition by SptP. However, introduction of an additional, partially activating (Y340D) phospho-mimetic mutation, to RafCAAX, dramatically reduced the ability of SptP to inhibit Raf action. Comparison of SptP mutants, lacking either GTPase-activating protein (GAP) activity or tyrosine phosphatase activity, further suggested that SptP inhibits both the membrane localization and subsequent phosphorylation required for activation of Raf. Both tyrosine phosphatase activity and GAP activity were responsible for SptP inhibition of Raf(Y340D)-induced ERK activation, but only GAP activity was responsible for inhibition of the membrane localized forms of Raf-1. To assess the biological significance of SptP, we examined tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha induction following Salmonella infection. SptP gene deletion enhanced the capacity of Salmonella to induce TNF-alpha secretion following infection of J774A.1 macrophage cells.