The European Union Reference Laboratory (EU-RL) has produced guidelines for a real-time PCR for the detection of verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC). In this study, we validated the EURL assay on 545 strains of VTEC and evaluated the utility of the assay for the detection of VTEC from stool specimens. The validation study on cultures showed that the EU-RL VTEC PCR was 99.3% sensitive for the detection of vtx genes; only strains harbouring vtx2f genes were not detected. The assay was 100% sensitive and 100% specific for the detection of both the eae and O157 rfbE genes. In a prospective study involving 500 stool samples, the EU-RL VTEC PCR detected vtx genes in 12.4% of specimens, compared to 3.8% specimens found to be culturepositive for E. coli O157 using the Health Protection Agency national standard culture method. This study showed that the EU-RL VTEC assay was reliable and robust, and an effective rapid screening method for the detection of VTEC from stool specimens.