F18ab and F18ac are important fimbrial colonization factors of verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) and/or enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) in weaned piglets with edema disease and/or diarrhea. To further investigate their prevalence and correlation to pathogenic E. coli, a duplex PCR, using three primers derived from the nucleotide sequence of the F18 major fimbrial subunit gene (fedA), and a direct agglutination test, using a monoclonal antibody specific for the antigenic factor 'a' of F18, were performed. Among 60VTEC, 24VTEC/ETEC and 24 ETEC isolates tested from weaned piglets with edema disease and/or diarrhea in different pig farms in the Jiangsu Province of China, 52 isolates (48.15%) were positive in the direct agglutination test and 63 isolates (58.33%) were positive in the duplex PCR. Among 63 PCR-positive isolates, 53 isolates (49.07%) were F18ab-positive and 10 isolates (9.26%) were F18ac-positive. In addition, the F18ab gene was more frequently detected in VTEC (61.67%) or VTEC/ETEC (62.50%) than in ETEC (4.17% only), while the F18ac gene was more frequently detected in VTEC/ETEC (33.33%) than in ETEC (8.33%) or VTEC (0%). Furthermore, F18ab was more frequently associated with Shiga toxin 2e (Stx2e), whereas F18ac was more frequently associated with enterotoxin ST I. These results suggest that the duplex PCR performed in this experiment is a more reliable method for identification of F18+E. coli, and that F18 is a more important virulence factor of VTEC and VTEC/ETEC.