Escherichia coli surface characteristics including hydrophobicity, electrophoretic mobility and surface functional groups' composition were investigated. These characteristics were determined respectively by water contact angle measurements, microelectrophoresis and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The relation between the physicochemical properties and functional groups' composition was also examined. The electrophoretic mobility at pH 7 appeared to be governed on the cell surface by the (O=C) functional groups. The cell surface's hydrophilicity was associated with high levels of (C-(O.N)) and (OH- (C-O-C)) functional groups, whereas the cell surface's hydrophobicity was associated with (C-(C,H)) functional groups.