OBJECTIVES: This study was carried out to investigate the sources of infection and modes of transmission of an outbreak of shigellosis that occurred among students of B middle and high school in Bonghwa, Korea from May 1 to 21, 1999. METHODS: We conducted questionnaires to 468 students, 38 staffs and 9 food handlers twice times (May 6, May 21) for follow up and secondary attack rate. Personal details and history of illness and exposure to particular foods were sought. And we conducted rectal swab for culture to 243 students, 33 staffs and 9 food handlers. Bacteriological examinations of water in the school were done. Cases were identified as subjects who had diarrhea (two or more loose stools in a 24-hour periods) on or after May 1. RESULTS: A total of 307 cases (attack rate: 59.6%) of 515 subjects were identified, including 50 confirmed (46 students and 4 staffs) by S. sonnei. All 9 food handlers denied illness and were had rectal swab for culture at May 6 that were negative for S. sonnei. 146 of 307 reported fever, 156 had tenesmus, 44 reported vomiting, and only 5 of 307 reported blood in the stool. The median duration of diarrhea was 4 days (range: 1-18 days). The mean incubation period until onset of diarrhea was 63 hours (range: 16-144 hours) and the secondary attack rate was 2.8% (43 cases of 1,561 family members). Risk for illness was higher among students who had eaten watered kimchi at March 30 than among those who did not [301(72.7%) of 417 versus 5(9.6%) of 52; RR=7.51; 95% CI=3.26-17.31]. CONCLUSION: The source of infection was estimated to be contaminated watered kimchi by one or two food handler who is presumed to be carrier.