We studied patterns in avian cholera mortality, the presence of Pasteurella multocida in the water or sediment, and water chemistry characteristics in 10 wetlands at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex (California, USA), an area of recurrent avian cholera epizootics, during the winters of 1997 and 1998. Avian cholera outbreaks (a?Y50 dead birds) occurred on two wetlands during the winter of 1997, but no P. multocida were recovered from 390 water and 390 sediment samples from any of the 10 wetlands. No mortality events were observed on study wetlands during the winter of 1998; however, P. multocida was recovered from water and sediment samples in six of the 10 study wetlands. The pH levels were higher for wetlands experiencing outbreaks during the winter of 1997 than for nonoutbreak wetlands, and aluminum concentrations were higher in wetlands from which P. multocida were recovered during the winter of 1998. Water chemistry parameters (calcium, magnesium, sodium, and dissolved protein) previously linked with P. multocida and avian cholera mortality were not associated with the occurrence of avian cholera outbreaks or the presence of P. multocida in our study wetlands. Overall, we found no evidence to support the hypothesis that wetland characteristics facilitate the presence of P. multocida and, thereby, allow some wetlands to serve as long-term sources (reservoirs) for P. multocida.