For the identification and characterization of the factor(s) responsible for the diffuse adherence (DA) pattern of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli strains, E. coli strain 2787 isolated from a case of infantile diarrhoea was employed. A plasmid-derived 11-kb fragment was cloned into pBR322. The recombinant plasmid pIB6 was shown to confer the diffuse adherence phenotype on different E. coli K12 strains as well as pIB4, a plasmid with a 9.2-kb insert. The DNA fragment necessary for the expression of the DA phenotype could be reduced to 6.0 kb. Antiserum obtained against pIB4-encoded proteins recognized a surface-associated protein of about 100 kDa in Western blotting. The isolated 100-kDa protein was found to bind to HeLa cells. The antiserum against C600(pIB4) inhibits adherence of E. coli 2787 and C600(pIB6) to HeLa cells. For this reason, the protein is called adhesin involved in diffuse adherence (AIDA-I).