Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) is commonly used in molecular epidemiology. However, this technique has never been used in studying intra-family spread of enteric diseases in Bangladesh. Our objective was to evaluate the intra-familial transmission of shigella infection using PFGE. Children of either sex, less than 10 years old, who were family contacts of shigella-infected index cases were the study population. PFGE was applied if the same serotypes/sub-serotypes of shigella were isolated from both the index case and the family contact children. In total, 227 index cases were studied. Shigella was isolated from 61 (27%) contact children on day 1 of enrolment, among which Shigella flexneri (41%) and S. boydii (41%) were dominant, followed by S. dysenteriae (10%), S. sonnei (3%), and shigella-like organisms (5%). Seventeen (28%) of the asymptomatic infections in contact children were caused by the same serotype of shigella as that found in the index case. The intra-familial shigella transmission rate was 8% (17/227). Of the 227 contact children, eight (4%) developed diarrhoea during a 10-day follow-up and shigella was isolated from five (2%) of these children, and three of them (S. flexneri 3a, 1b, and 3a) were identical to the strains from their respective index cases. Compared to children without asymptomatic carriage of shigella (2/166), the risk (odds ratio) of developing diarrhoea for the children with asymptomatic carriage of shigella identical to their cases (3/17) was 9·0 (95% CI 1·5–49·0, P=0·01). The attributable risk for symptomatic shigella infection by intra-familial transmission was 50%. Results of this study demonstrated that intra-familial transmission of shigella carries a higher risk for diarrhoea.