Microbial pathogens possess a repertoire of virulence determinants that each make unique contributions to fitness during infection. Analysis of these in vivo –expressed functions reveals the biology of the infection process, encompassing the bacterial infection strategies and the host ecological and environmental retaliatory strategies designed to combat them (e.g. thermal, osmotic, oxygen, nutrient and acid stress). Many of the bacterial virulence functions that contribute to a successful infection are normally only expressed during infection. A genetic approach was used to isolate mutants that ectopically expressed many of these functions in a laboratory setting. Lack of DNA adenine methylase (Dam) in Salmonella typhimurium abolishes the preferential expression of many bacterial virulence genes in host tissues. Dam− Salmonella were proficient in colonization of mucosal sites but were defective in colonization of deeper tissue sites. Additionally, Dam− mutants were totally avirulent and effective as live vaccines against murine typhoid fever. Since dam is highly conserved in many pathogenic bacteria that cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, Dams are potentially excellent targets for both vaccines and antimicrobials.