The role of bacterial 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) deaminase activity in the interaction between tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum=Solanum lycopersicum) and Pseudomonas brassicacearum was studied in different strains. The phytopathogenic strain 520-1 possesses ACC deaminase activity, an important trait of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) that stimulates root growth. The ACC-utilizing PGPR strain Am3 increased in vitro root elongation and root biomass of soil-grown tomato cv. Ailsa Craig at low bacterial concentrations (106 cells ml–1 in vitro and 106 cells g–1 soil) but had negative effects on in vitro root elongation at higher bacterial concentrations. A mutant strain of Am3 (designated T8-1) that was engineered to be ACC deaminase deficient failed to promote tomato root growth in vitro and in soil. Although strains T8-1 and 520-1 inhibited root growth in vitro at higher bacterial concentrations (>106 cells ml–1), they did not cause disease symptoms in vitro after seed inoculation, or in soil supplemented with bacteria. All the P. brassicacearum strains studied caused pith necrosis when stems or fruits were inoculated with a bacterial suspension, as did the causal organism of this disease (P. corrugata 176), but the non-pathogenic strain Pseudomonas sp. Dp2 did not. Strains Am3 and T8-1 were marked with antibiotic resistance and fluorescence to show that bacteria introduced to the nutrient solution or on seeds in vitro, or in soil were capable of colonizing the root surface, but were not detected inside root tissues. Both strains showed similar colonization ability either on root surfaces or in wounded stems. The results suggest that bacterial ACC deaminase of P. brassicacearum Am3 can promote growth in tomato by masking the phytopathogenic properties of this bacterium.