Specimens from 181 patients with diarrhoea were examined by a Military General Hospital in a 3-month period during deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia in 1990/1. DNA probes for heat labile (LT) and heat stable (ST) enterotoxin genes identified enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) in 47 of the specimens (26%) and 49 ETEC strains were isolated. The majority (55%) belonged to a novel ETEC serotype having the O-antigen 159 and a flagellar antigen designated as a provisional new type. They produced ST and the coli surface associated antigen (CS)6. Strains of serotype O6:H16 represented 22% of the ETEC examined. They produced ST, LT and CSS together with either CS1 or CS2. The remaining ETEC belonged to seven O:H serotypes. Overall, ST was the only enterotoxin gene identified in 73% of the ETEC and 67% of the strains expressed CS6 in the absence of other colonization antigens. Resistance to three or more antibiotics was observed in 53% of the ETEC, including most of the O159 strains.