Bacterial adhesion is often mediated by complex polymeric surface structures referred to as fimbriae. Type 1 fimbriae of Escherichia coli represent the archetypical and best characterised fimbrial system. These adhesive organelles mediate binding to D-mannose and are directly associated with virulence in the urinary tract. A typical type 1 fimbriated bacterium has up to 500 fimbriae on its surface, with each fimbria consisting of approximately 1000 individual subunits. This equates to approximately 8% of the total cellular protein and is potentially a significant resource drain for the cell. Here we have used DNA microarray analysis to examine the molecular events involved in response to fimbrial gene expression in E. coli K-12. Observed differential expression levels of the fim genes were in good agreement with our current knowledge of the stoichiometry of type 1 fimbriae. Changes in fim expression correlated directly with alterations in colony morphology. Deletion of the entire fim gene cluster resulted in the converse expression of another surface protein Antigen 43 (Ag43). Specific deletion of the fimH gene did not affect expression of other fim genes or Ag43, but did dramatically reduce the number of fimbriae expressed on the cell surface. The use of high-resolution oligonucleotide arrays for defining points of transcription initiation and termination is also demonstrated.