This survey reports the results of investigations performed by the Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens (LEP), to identify evidence of human infection with Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) in the UK during the period 1989-91. Bacterial isolates, faecal specimens and serum samples were received from patients suffering from diarrhoea, bloody diarrhoea and haemolytic uraemic syndrome. Using serotyping, Vero cytotoxin gene probing and an ELISA for serum antibodies to E. coli O 157, evidence of infection was detected in 232, 428 and 615 individuals in 1989, 1990 and 1991 respectively. Of these individuals, 15% were reported as having HUS. Vero cytotoxin-producing E. coli O 157 was the most frequently encountered serogroup, with isolations from a total of 1092 individuals over the 3-year period. The incidence of VTEC infection increased from 0.41/100,000 in 1989 to 1.07/100,000 in 1991. The area with the highest rate of infection in each year was Scotland, increasing from 1.37/100,000 in 1989 to 3.97/100,000 in 1991.