Human enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli adhere to the brush border of human enterocytes. The mean number of bacteria adhering to one enterocyte (adhesion index) varied from 0.5 to 3.1 when the strains produce adhesins. Different factors related to enterocytes and to bacteria are involved in this variability. The number of bacteria which adhered to enterocytes issued from the same donor varied from from 0 to 12. Moreover the proportion of enterocytes on which several bacteria sticked did not exceed 20%. This variability might be due to the disparity in the maturation of the enterocytes. On the other hand, whatever the adhesion factors considered, the adhesion index varied according to the donors. ETEC strains did not express adhesion when bacteria were grown in a liquid medium but this capacity could be restored after transfer on solid medium. This phenomenon seemed like a phase-variation and appeared to be linked to a 4 to 6 kilobases (kb) plasmid. On the other hand, when the bacteria were grown on agar medium (CFA-agar or Mueller-Hinton agar) two phenotypes of colonies could be observed: large colonies (LC) which were composed of non-adhesive bacteria and small colonies (SC) which were composed of a majority of adhesive bacteria; when the number of subcultures was not too great, a majority of colonies presented the small colonies phenotype. The plasmid content analysis showed the segregation of a high molecular weight plasmid DNA (approximately 100 kb) for the bacteria issued from large colonies phenotype.