[en] Epizootic rabbit enteropathy (ERE), a highly lethal (30-80% mortality) disease of broiler rabbits aged 6-14 weeks, first appeared in 1997 in French intensive enclosed rabbitries and is of unknown aetiology. Bacteriological, virological and parasitical examination of the intestinal contents of rabbits that had died either in spontaneous field cases or after experimental reproduction of ERE, were undertaken in an attempt to identify infectious agents that may play a role in the disease. Two bacterial strains, Clostridium perfringens and non-enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, were repeatedly isolated at high faecal counts from naturally infected animals. In field cases, a correlation between typical gross lesions of epizootic enteropathy and the presence of the alpha toxin of Cl. perfringens was observed (P < 0.0001; Chi-squared test). Although attempts to reproduce the disease by inoculation with different pools of cultivable bacterial strains failed, the disease was successfully reproduced by inoculation with one French and two Belgian samples of caecal contents. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.