Edwardsiella tarda is an important cause of haemorrhagic septicaemia in fish and also of gastro- and extraintestinal infections in humans. Using a combination of comparative prateomics and TnphoA mutagenesis, we have identified five proteins that may contribute to E. tarda PPD130/91 pathogenesis. Lowered protein secretion, impaired autoaggregation and the absence of six proteins were observed only in three highly attenuated mutants when cultured in Dulbecco's modified eagle medium (DMEM). Five out of six proteins could be identified by their mass spectra. Three proteins were identified as putative effector proteins (EseB, EseC and EseD) that are homologous to SseB, SseC and SseD of a type III secretion system (TTSS) in Salmonella species. The other two were EvpA and EvpC, homologous to Eip20 and Eip18 in Edwardsiella ictaluri. The complete sequencing and homology studies of evpA-H indicate that similar gene clusters are widely distributed in other pathogens such as Escherichia, Salmonella, Vibrio and Yersinia species with unknown functions. Insertional inactivation and deletion of evpB or evpC led to lower replication rates in gourami phagocytes, and reduced protein secretion and virulence in blue gourami. Complementation of these deletion mutants showed partial recovery in the above three phenotypes, indicating that these genes are vital for E. tarda pathogenesis. The transport of the EvpC protein may not use the TTSS in E. tarda. The expression of EvpA and EvpC as well as EseB, EseC and EseD was temperature dependent (suppressed at 37°C), and disruption of esrB affected their expression. The present study identifies two possible secretion systems (TTSS and Evp) that are vital for E. tarda pathogenesis.