Objective: To describe the epidemiology and clinical spectrum of reactive arthritis (ReA) following culture-confirmed infection with bacterial enteric pathogens in a population-based study in the USA. Methods: We conducted telephone interviews of persons age >1 year with culture confirmed Campylobacter, Escherichia coli O157, Salmonella, Shigella and Yersinia infections reported to FoodNet (http://www.cdc.gov/FoodNet/) in Minnesota, USA and Oregon, USA between 2002 and 2004. Subjects with new onset joint pain, joint swelling, back pain, heel pain and morning stiffness lasting ≥3 days within 8 weeks of culture (possible ReA) were invited to complete a detailed questionnaire and physical examination. Results: A total of 6379 culture-confirmed infections were reported; 70% completed screening interviews. Of these, 575 (13%) developed possible ReA; incidence was highest following Campylobacter (2.1/100 000) and Salmonella (1.4/100 000) infections. Risk was greater for females (relative risk (RR) 1.5, 95% CI, 1.3 to 1.7), adults (RR 2.5, 95% CI, 2.0 to 3.1) and subjects with severe acute illness (eg, fever, chills, headache, persistent diarrhoea). Risk was not associated with antibiotic use or human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B27. A total of 54 (66%) of 82 subjects examined had confirmed ReA. Enthesitis was the most frequent finding; arthritis was less common. The estimated incidence of ReA following culture-confirmed Campylobacter, E coli O157, Salmonella, Shigella and Yersinia infections in Oregon was 0.6-3.1 cases/100 000. Conclusions: This is the first population-based study of ReA following infections due to bacterial enteric pathogens in the USA. These data will help determine the burden of illness due to these pathogens and inform clinicians about potential sequelae of these infections.