[en] Initial adherence to host cells is the first step of the infection of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC), enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) and verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) strains. The importance of this step in the infection resides in the fact that (1) adherence is the first contact between bacteria and intestinal cells without which the other steps cannot occur and (2) adherence is the basis of host specificity for a lot of pathogens. This review describes the initial adhesins of the EPEC, EHEC and VTEC strains. During the last few years, several new adhesins and putative colonisation factors have been described, especially in EHEC strains. Only a few adhesins (BfpA, AF/R1, AF/R2, Ral, F18 adhesins) appear to be host and pathotype specific. The others are found in more than one species and/or pathotype (EPEC, EHEC, VTEC). Initial adherence of EPEC, EHEC and VTEC strains to host cells is probably mediated by multiple mechanisms.