PCR-RFLP methods for subtyping the intimin gene from strains of typical and atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) and Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) were compared. A novel HhaI PCR-RFLP method was developed that was rapid, easy to use and amplified an 1852 bp fragment of the intimin gene from all isolates examined. This method was used to investigate the intimin sub-types of EPEC strains associated with 14 outbreaks of diarrhoeal disease between 1967 and 2001, and 20 sporadic cases between January and December 2000, in the UK and Eire. In this study, genes encoding alpha, beta, gamma, delta and zeta-intimin were detected in the EPEC strains associated with outbreaks and beta, gamma, epsilon, theta and zeta-intimin genes were identified in isolates from sporadic cases. The beta-intimin gene was the most frequently detected sub-type in both the outbreak and sporadic strains.