Most babies are colonized by the predominant strains of Escherichia coli present in their own mother's faecal flora. Those babies who did not acquire their maternal faecal flora acquired strains of E. coli belonging to a small number of the possible serotypes. Moreover, the same serotypes were found in several babies and other mothers, suggesting spread within the ward. These few strains included some of the O groups which had previously commonly been found as urinary pathogens. These strains may have increased potentialities for colonization of human bowel. Antigenic and biochemical variation was observed among the strains.