A total of 919 Escherichia coli isolates from 125 children with diarrhoea (cases) and 98 controls were assayed for adherence to HEp-2 cells. Localised adherence was found only in isolates from cases. Diffuse, aggregative (AA), chain-like adherence (CLA) and variants of the AA pattern were found in both cases and controls. The AA isolates were tested for gene sequences associated with enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC). Only 25% of the isolates hybridised with the EAEC probe, and the aafA, astA and pet gene sequences were found in 7.9%, 44.7% and 7.9% of the isolates, respectively. The aggA gene was not found, although 7.9% were positive for aggC. The CLA isolates reacted with the EAEC probe (55.6%), and the aggC, astA and pet gene sequences were found in 66.7%, 33.3% and 11.1%, respectively. The aggR (55.6%), aspU (55.6%), shf (33.3%) and she (22.2%) genes were also found in CLA isolates.