Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) is a frequent and severe complication of cirrhosis. Escherichia coli is the most frequent bacterium isolated in this condition. The presence of capsular antigens, mainly the K1 capsular polysaccharide, has been associated with invasiveness in E coli infections. Capsular serotypes of E coli causing SBP were determined in 37 cirrhotic patients. Twenty-seven strains were encapsulated (72.9%), 9 of them (24.3%) with K1 capsular polysaccharide, and 10 were nonencapsulated. Patients with encapsulated E coli showed a significantly higher incidence (92.5% vs. 50%; P < .01) and number of complications per patient (1.9 ± 1.1 vs. 0.8 ± 1.0; P < .01) than patients with nonencapsulated strains. Although mortality was higher in patients with encapsulated strains (44.4% vs. 20%), the difference did not reach statistical significance. Considering patients infected by encapsulated strains, the incidence of complications and mortality were similar in patients with or without K1 strains. These data suggest that the presence of encapsulated strains could have a prognostic significance in SBP caused by E coli in cirrhotic patients.