The aim of the work was to explore the impact on general and psychological health of those with a proven bacterial gastrointestinal infection and to compare this with controls from whom no bacterial pathogen was identified. A case control study was conducted using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Thirty-nine cases from whose faeces salmonella or campylobacter had been cultured were compared with matched controls. Reported gastrointestinal symptoms, general health and self-reported hygiene practices were compared. At the time of acute illness the General Household Questionnaire suggested similar levels of morbidity, though by follow up the controls were substantially more likely to be distressed. Cases were more likely to have changed their food preparation practices, to avoid certain eating places and to have been given advice about food preparation. In this small study a positive diagnosis of salmonella or campylobacter seems to have had a reassuring effect when compared with those for whom no diagnosis was made.