Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, requires two coordinately regulated factors for full virulence: cholera toxin (CT), a potent enterotoxin, and toxin-coregulated pili (TCP), surface organelles required for intestinal colonization. The structural genes for CT are shown here to be encoded by a filamentous bacteriophage (designated CTXΦ), which is related to coliphage M13. The CTXΦ genome chromosomally integrated or replicated as a plasmid. CTXΦ used TCP as its receptor and infected V. cholerae cells within the gastrointestinal tracts of mice more efficiently than under laboratory conditions. Thus, the emergence of toxigenic V. cholerae involves horizontal gene transfer that may depend on in vivo gene expression.