Ruminants, especially cattle, have been implicated as a principal reservoir of one of the enterovirulent Escherichia coli pathotypes. The detection of the virulence genes in diarrhoeic calves and small ruminants has not been studied in Egypt. To determine the occurrence, serotypes and the virulence gene markers, stx1, stx2, hylA, Flich7, stb, F41, K99, sta, F17, LT-I, LT-II and eae, rectal swabs were taken from diarrhoeic calves, sheep and goats and subjected to bacterial culture and PCR. The E. coli prevalence rate in the diarrhoeic animals was 63.6% in calves, 27.3% in goat and 9.1% in sheep. The 102 E. coli strains isolated from the calves, goat and sheep were 100% haemolytic non-verotoxic and fitted into the Eagg group. The isolates belonged to seven O serogroups (O25, O78, O86, O119, O158, O164 and O157). The eae gene was detected in six of the strains isolated from the calves. The 102 bovine, ovine and caprine E. coli strains isolated in this study were negative for stx1, stx2, F41, LT-I and Flich7 genes. The highest gene combinations were found to occur in the form of 24/102 isolates (23.5%) that carried the F17 gene predominantly associated with eaeA, hylA, K99 and Stb genes in the calves, while the hylA, K99 and Sta were the only genes found to be in conjunction in both calves and goats (6/102; 5.9% each). Our data show that in Egypt, large and small ruminants could be a potential source of infection in humans.