Interactions between Escherichia coli K1, which causes meningitis in neonates, and macrophages have not been explored well. In this study we found that E. coli K1 was able to enter, survive, and replicate intracellularly in both murine and human macrophage cell lines, as well as in monocytes and macrophages of newborn rats. In addition, we demonstrated that OmpA + E. coli also enters and replicates in human peripheral blood monocytes in vitro. Outer membrane protein A (OmpA) expression on E. coli contributes to binding to macrophages, phagocytosis, and survival within macrophages. Opsonization with either complement proteins or antibody is not required for uptake and survival of the bacteria within the macrophages. Transmission electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry studies with the infected macrophages indicated that OmpA+ E. coli multiplies enormously in a single phagosome and bursts the cell. Internalization of OmpA+ E. coli by RAW 264.7 cells occurred by both actin- and microtubule-dependent processes, which are independent of RGD-mediated integrin receptors. Internalization and intracellular survival within phagocytic cells thus may play an important role in the development of bacteremia, which is crucial for E. coli crossing of the blood-brain barrier.