Edema disease, a naturally occurring disease of swine caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), was used as a model for the sequence of events that occur in the pathogenesis of STEC infection. The mean time from production of levels of Shiga toxin 2e (Stx2e) detectable in the feces (day 1) to the onset of clinical disease (neurologic disturbances or death) was 5 days (range, 3-9). Bacterial colonization and titers of Stx2e in the ileum peaked at 4 days after inoculation in pigs without signs of clinical disease and at 6 days after inoculation in clinically affected pigs. Animals with the greatest risk of progressing to clinical disease tended to have the highest fecal toxin titers (>/=1:4096). Stx2e was detected in the red cell fraction from blood of some pigs showing clinical signs of edema disease but was not detected in the serum or cerebrospinal fluid.