Previous studies have identified two bacterial factors involved in enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) infection. A plasmid-mediated EPEC adherence factor (EAF) is responsible for initial and localized adherence. A chromosomally encoded E. coli attachment and effacement factor (eae) is involved in effacement of the eukaryotic cell surface and characteristic "pedestal" formation. By using isogenic strains deficient in either EAF, eae, or both, the process of EPEC adherence and entry in vitro was examined. While EAF proved necessary and sufficient for efficient bacterial association with HEp-2 cells, both EAF and eae were required for efficient effacement of and entry into these cells and other cultured cell lines. Invasion mediated by eae was markedly inhibited by cytochalasin D and colchicine. Afimbrial adhesion or type I pili from uropathogenic strains of E. coli substituted for EAF in EAF-Eae+ strains to provide initial adherence to HEp-2 cells and to facilitate actin condensation.