Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) from Burma, central Africa (Rwanda and Zaire) and Peru, were screened by enzyme-linked immunoassays for the colonization factor antigens (CFAs) and putative colonization factors (PCFs): CFA/I, CFA/II, which consists of three coli surface-associated (CS) antigens, CS1, CS2 and CS3, CFA/III, CFA/IV (CS4, CS5, CS6), CS7, PCFO9, PCFO159.H4, PCFO166, and CS17. The highest proportion of ETEC with identifiable colonization factors (71%) were found in the strains from Burma, which were mainly positive for CFA/I (38%), but strains producing CFA/II (4%), CFA/IV (11%), CS7 (10%), CS17 (4%), PCFO159.H4 (2%) and PCFO166 (2%) were also found. Sixty-nine percent of the ETEC from central Africa were positive for known colonization factors. While CFA/I positive strains were important (12%), a higher number of ETEC producing CFA/IV (33%) and CS17 (24%) were found. Fifty-two percent of the Peruvian strains produced identifiable colonization factors. The largest group of strains produced antigens of the CFA/IV complex (17%), while ETEC producing CFA/II (6%), CFA/III and CS6 (2%), CS7 (6%), PCFO9 (6%), PCFO166 (8%) and CS17 (7%) were also found. These surveys show that there is a considerable variation in the proportions and types of colonization factor found in different geographical areas. From 29 to 48% of the ETEC did not possess an identifiable colonization factor. These were particularly of the LT only producing type. These results have important implications for vaccine formulation.