The incidence of Escherichia coli having pathogenic genes for diarrhea was studied in Laos in 2002. A total of 525 E.coli strains from 278 patients (basically, two E. coli isolates from each patient) were examined by PCR to detect the known pathogenic genes (stx, eae, elt, est, ipaH, and aggR). These genes were detected in 23 strains from 16 patients (16/278: 5.8%). In 10 cases of the 16, one of the two isolates from each individual was negative for the gene, and in the other six cases, both isolates had the gene (same gene in four cases). E. coli having eae but no stx (enteropathogenic E. coli [EPEC]) was found in two cases out of 278 (0.7%). Nevertheless, Class I classical EPEC (serogroup-based) was found in 77 cases (28%). Enterotoxigenic E. coli, enteroaggregative E. coli, and enterohemorrhagic E. coli were found in 9, 4, and I cases, respectively. Enteroinvasive E. coli was not detected. This study suggested that the incidence of diarrhea due to E. coli is not as high as has been previously thought.