Background: Tick-borne pathogens cause emerging zoonoses, and include fastidious organisms such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Because of their obligate intracellular nature, methods for mutagenesis and transformation have not been available. Results: To facilitate genetic manipulation, we transformed A. phagocytophilum (Ap) to express a green fluorescent protein (GFP) with the Himar1 transposase system and selection with the clinically irrelevant antibiotic spectinomycin. Conclusion: These transformed bacteria (GFP/Ap) grow at normal rates and are brightly fluorescent in human, monkey, and tick cell culture. Molecular characterization of the GFP/Ap genomic DNA confirmed transposition and the flanking genomic insertion locations were sequenced. Three mice inoculated with GFP/Ap by intraperitoneal injection became infected as demonstrated by the appearance of morulae in a peripheral blood neutrophil and re-isolation of the bacteria in culture.