Differences in the presence of nine urovirulence factors among clinical isolates of Escherichia coli causing cystitis and pyelonephritis in women and prostatitis in men have been studied. Hemolysin and necrotizing factor type 1 occur significantly more frequently among isolates causing prostatitis than among those causing cystitis (P < 0.0001) or pyelonephritis (P < 0.005). Moreover, the papGIII gene occurred more frequently in E. coli isolates associated with prostatitis (27%) than in those associated with pyelonephritis (9%) (P < 0.05). Genes encoding aerobactin and PapC occurred significantly less frequently in isolates causing cystitis than in those causing prostatitis (P < 0.01 and P < 0.0001, respectively) and pyelonephritis (P < 0.01 and P < 0.0001, respectively). No differences in the presence of Sat or type 1 fimbriae were found. Finally, AAFII and Bfp fimbriae are no longer considered uropathogenic virulence factors since they were not found in any of the strains analyzed. Overall, the results showed that clinical isolates producing prostatitis need greater virulence than isolates producing pyelonephritis in women or, in particular, cystitis in women (P < 0.05). Overall, the results suggest that clinical isolates producing prostatitis are more virulent that those producing pyelonephritis or cystitis in women.