There is very little human disease associated with enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157 in Australia even though these organisms are present in the animal population. A group of Australian isolates of E. coli O157:H7 and O157:H- from human and animal sources were tested for the presence of virulence markers and compared by XbaI DNA macrorestriction analysis using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Each of 102 isolates tested contained the gene eae which encodes the E. coli attaching and effacing factor and all but one carried the enterohaemolysin gene, ehxA, found on the EHEC plasmid. The most common Shiga toxin gene carried was stx2c, either alone (16%) or in combination with stx1 (74%) or stx2 (3%). PFGE grouped the isolates based on H serotype and some clusters were source specific. Australian E. coli O157:H7 and H- isolates from human, animal and meat sources carry all the virulence markers associated with EHEC disease in humans therefore other factors must be responsible for the low rates of human infection in Australia.