The present study was performed to investigate the contribution of typical and atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) as a cause of infectious diarrhoea among children less than 10 years old in Iran. During the summer months, 247 specimens from children with diarrhoea and 1108 from asymptomatic children were analysed for the presence of EPEC and other bacterial pathogens. Potential enteric pathogens were identified in 140 cases of children with diarrhoea (56.7%). EPEC was the most frequently identified agent (111 cases), followed by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (13), Shigella (9), Salmonella (6) and Aeromonas sp. (1). EPEC isolates were examined for the presence of eaeA, bfpA and stx genes by PCR. EPEC isolates were classified as typical (eaeA+ bfpA+) or atypical (eaeA+ bfpA-). Typical EPEC was diagnosed in 35 cases (11.8%), compared with 8 (0.4%) in the asymptomatic group (P<0.05). Atypical EPEC strains were isolated from 23 cases (9.3%), compared with 13 (1.2%) of the healthy control group (P<0.05). In conclusion, the data suggest that typical and atypical EPEC are an important cause of diarrhoea in Iranian children.