The potential effects of horizontal gene transfer on human health are an important item in the safety assessment of genetically modified organisms. Horizontal gene transfer from genetically modified crops to gut microflora most likely occurs with transgenes of microbial origin. The characteristics of microbial transgenes other than antibiotic-resistance genes in market-approved genetically modified crops are reviewed. These characteristics include the microbial source, natural function, function in genetically modified crops, natural prevalence, geographical distribution, similarity to other microbial genes, known horizontal transfer activity, selective conditions and environments for horizontally transferred genes, and potential contribution to pathogenicity and virulence in humans and animals. The assessment of this set of data for each of the microbial genes reviewed does not give rise to health concerns. We recommend including the above-mentioned items into the premarket safety assessment of genetically modified crops carrying transgenes other than those reviewed in the present study.