The characterization of Escherichia coli strains isolated from healthy infants under one year of age with respect to O:H serotype, K1 and K5 antigens in two disparate parts of the developed world was the purpose of this investigation. A total of 450 strains were examined, 264 from Berlin and 186 from Melbourne. Of all the 220 different O:H serotypes found, 179 were only isolated once, 90 in Berlin and 89 in Melbourne. However, 30 of the 41 O:H serotypes (73.2%) found more than once were isolated in both centers. The most commonly identified serotypes were found in both centers and included O1:H-; O1:H7; O2:H2; O2:H4; O2:H7; O4:H5; O6:H-; O6:H1; O15:H1; O18:H7; O25:H1; and 075:H-. Potentially pathogenic serotypes were found in both cities. Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC)-associated serotypes (O18:H7; O26:H-; O44:H34; O86:H-; O128:H2) were present in 11 cases and enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC)-associated types including O26:H11; O128:H2) were present in four cases. The distributions of serotypes found were similar in the two cities, strongly suggesting the wider applicability of these results.