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Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis is a major cause of human gastrointestinal disease, infection being due in large part to consumption of contaminated eggs. The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of Salmonella is known to play a role in colonisation of the host and survival in hostile conditions including egg albumen. We investigated the contribution of LPS O-antigen length to colonisation of the reproductive tract of laying hens, contamination of eggs and survival in albumen. We show that expression of very-long O-antigen is essential for contamination of eggs, probably as a consequence of enhanced reproductive tract colonisation and survival in the forming egg. © 2013 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.