The relationship between levels of carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) seed contamination with Xanthomonas campestris pv. carotae and (i) establishment of populations of X. campestris pv. carotae on carrot leaves and (ii) the incidence and severity of carrot bacterial blight was determined in field plots in Davis, California, in 1995 and 1996. Levels of seed contamination ranged from 0 to 1.5 × 105 CFU/g in 1995 and from 0 to 1.5 × 107 CFU/g in 1996. Seed contamination levels were positively correlated with X. campestris pv. carotae populations detected on leaves and with the incidence and severity of carrot bacterial blight. The size of X. campestris pv. carotae populations on leaves was also directly related to disease incidence. In 1996, yields were significantly reduced in plots established with seed lots having the highest levels of X. campestris pv. carotae contamination. Under the conditions of this study (i.e., a location having low rainfall and relative humidity), the threshold of seed contamination for the establishment of X. campestris pv. carotae populations on leaves and for the development of carrot bacterial blight was unexpectedly high: 104 to 105 CFU/g of seed.