On 24–25 October 2005 a cluster of five haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) cases was reported in southwest France. An investigation was undertaken to identify the outbreak source and implement control measures. Cases were defined as individuals with HUS or diarrhoea with isolation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in stools or a positive antibody response to E. coli O157 lipopolysaccharide, resident in southwest France with symptom onset after 19 September 2005. Sixty-nine identified patients had symptom onset between 5 October and 3 November 2005, including 17 cases of HUS. One brand of frozen beef burgers produced on 22 August 2005 was consumed by all patients in the week before symptom onset. E. coli O157:H7 strains from patients, patients' burgers and the manufacturing plant were genetically related. This is the largest community-wide outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in France to date and the first associated with consumption of contaminated frozen beef burgers.