Samples of faeces from 57 dogs with acute diarrhoea, 82 dogs with chronic diarrhoea, 34 clinically healthy household dogs and 88 kennelled control dogs were analysed by hybridisation, using DNA probes to detect enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEc) and enterotoxigenic E coli (ETEC), verocytotoxin-producing E coli (VTEC), enterohaemorrhagic E coli (EHEC), enteroinvasive E coil (EIEc) and enteroaggregative E coli (EAggEC). Samples of duodenal juice from 60 of the 82 dogs with chronic diarrhoea were also examined. Significantly more of the dogs with diarrhoea were excreting EPEC (acute 35.1 per cent, chronic 31.7 per cent) and VTEC (acute 24.6 per cent, chronic 28 per cent) than the kennelled dogs (EPEC 17.1 per cent, VTEC 0 per cent) or the household control dogs (EPEC 6 per cent, VTEC 5.9 per cent). Enteropathic E coli was also detected in the duodenal juice of 23 of 60 (38.3 per cent) of the dogs with chronic diarrhoea. The EPEC attaching and effacing A (eaeA) gene and the verocytotoxin 1 (Vri) gene coding for vTEC were often found together. There was good agreement between in vitro studies and hybridisation for the detection of eaeA and VTri. Isolates from the dogs with diarrhoea adhered significantly more to Hep-2 cells, and vr -positive strains from the dogs with diarrhoea consistently killed more than 50 per cent of Vero cells.