Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that enterohaemorrhagic strains of Escherichia coli which cause the haemolytic uremic syndrome in humans and the oedema disease in pigs more frequently produce Shiga-like toxin type II (SLT-II) than any other member of the Shiga-like toxin family. A technique has been developed for the identification of SLT-II producing E. coli using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and a digoxigenin (DIG)-labelled DNA probe to facilitate the early detection and epidemiological analysis of these pathogens. Whole cell DNA liberated from isolated colonies during the denaturation step of PCR was amplified using a primer pair which is homologous to the slt-II gene sequences. The amplification products were transferred directly to a nitrocellulose membrane or following agarose gel electrophoresis and DNA denaturation. A chemically labelled DNA probe, prepared using PCR with the incorporation of DIG, was used to identify the PCR products of strains which produced SLT-II or a variant of SLT-II.