Vibrio vulnificus is an aquatic pathogenic bacterium that can cause vibriosis in humans and fish. The species is subdivided into three biotypes with the fish-virulent strains belonging to biotype 2. The quorum sensing (QS) phenomenon mediated by furanosyl borate diester or autoinducer 2 (AI-2) has been described in human strains of biotype 1, and here we show that the luxS gene which encodes AI-2 is present in all strains of V. vulnificus regardless of origin, biotype or serovar. In this study, we also demonstrate that V. vulnificus produces QS signals of the acylated homoserine lactone (AHL) class (AI-1). AHLs were detected in strains of biotype 1 and 2 from water, fish and human wound infections but not in strains isolated from human septicaemic cases. The AHL compound was identified as N-butanoyl-homoserine-lactone (C4-HL) by both reporter strains and by HPLC-high-resolution MS. C4-HL was detected when AHL-positive strains were grown in low-nutrient medium [modified sea water yeast extract (MSWYE)] but not in rich media (tryptic soy broth or brain–heart infusion) and its production was enhanced when blood factors were added to MSWYE. C4-HL was detected in vivo, in eels infected with AHL-positive biotype 2 strains. No known AHL-related gene was detected by PCR or Southern blot suggesting that AHL-related genes in V. vulnificus are different from those found in other Gram-negative bacteria.