Escherichia coli isolates of serotype O6 show a broad spectrum of virulence: virulent strains often cause urinary tract infections; other strains are considered nonpathogenic. In order to analyze the properties of E. coli O6 strains, different phenotypic and genotypic test systems were used. Our data indicate that O6 strains represent a rather heterogenous group of bacteria, which differ in the genotypic presence as well as in the phenotypic expression of virulence factors. In contrast to the isolates 536 (O6:K15) and RZ 475 (O6:K5) the strain DSm 6601, belonging to serotype O6:K5:H1, produces neither toxins nor mannose-resistant hemagglutinating (MRHA) adhesins. However, the strain possesses chromosomally located gene clusters coding for F1C (foc) and type I fimbriae (fim). In addition, the strain secrets the iron-uptake substances aerobactin and enterobactin and produces at least one microcin. The strain is serum-sensitive and is less virulent in in vivo animal tests.