Caco-2 cells are models of absorptive enterocytes. The net transport of fluid from apical to basolateral surfaces results in 'domes' forming in differentiated monolayers. Here, the effect of Campylobacter jejuni on this process has been examined. C. jejuni caused no changes in short-circuit current upon infection of Caco-2 cell monolayers in Ussing chambers. Thus, no active secretory events could be demonstrated using this model. It was therefore hypothesized that C. jejuni could inhibit the absorptive function of enterocytes and that this may contribute to diarrhoeal disease. C. jejuni infection of fluid-transporting ('doming') Caco-2 cells resulted in a significant reduction in dome number, which correlated with a decrease in tight junction integrity in infected monolayers, when measured as transepithelial electrical resistance. Defined mutants of C. jejuni also reduced dome numbers in infected monolayers. C. jejuni also altered the distribution of the tight junction protein occludin within cell monolayers. The addition to monolayers of extracellular gentamicin prevented these changes, indicating the contribution of extracellular bacteria to this process. Thus, tight junction integrity is required for fluid transport in Caco-2 cell monolayers as leaky tight junctions cannot maintain support of transported fluid at the basolateral surface of infected cell monolayers. Inhibition of absorptive cell function, changes in epithelial resistance and rearrangement of tight junctional proteins such as occludin represent a potential diarrhoeal mechanism of C. jejuni.