Hfq is an RNA-binding protein that plays an important role in many cellular processes. In this study, we examined the biological effect of the Hfq of Edwardsiella tarda, a severe fish pathogen with a broad host range that includes humans. To facilitate the study, a markerless hfq in-frame deletion wild type, TXhfq, was constructed. Compared to the wild type TX01, TXhfq exhibited (i) retarded planktonic and biofilm growth, (ii) decreased resistance against oxidative stress, (iii) attenuated overall virulence and tissue dissemination and colonization capacity, (iv) impaired ability to replicate in host macrophages and to block host immune response. Introduction of a trans-expressed hfq gene into TXhfq restored the lost virulence of TXhfq. To identify potential Hfq targets, comparative global proteomic analysis was conducted, which revealed that 20 proteins belonging to different functional categories were differentially expressed in TXhfq and TX01. Quantitative real time RT-PCR analysis showed that the mRNA levels of two thirds of the genes of the identified proteins were consistent with the proteomic results. Since TXhfq is dramatically attenuated in virulence, we further examined its potential as a naturally delivered vaccine administered via the immersion route in a flounder model. The results showed that TXhfq induced effective protection against lethal E. tarda challenge. Taken together, our study indicated that Hfq is required for the normal operation of E. tarda in multiple aspects, and that Hfq probably exerts a regulatory effect on a wide range of target genes at both transcription and post-transcription levels.