ABSTRACT Most Escherichia coli strains live harmlessly in the intestines and rarely cause disease in healthy individuals. Nonetheless, a number of pathogenic strains can cause diarrhea or extraintestinal diseases both in healthy and immunocompromised individuals. Diarrheal illnesses are a severe public health problem and a major cause of morbidity and mortality in infants and young children, especially in developing countries. E. coli strains that cause diarrhea have evolved by acquiring, through horizontal gene transfer, a particular set of characteristics that have successfully persisted in the host. According to the group of virulence determinants acquired, specific combinations were formed determining the currently known E. coli pathotypes, which are collectively known as diarrheagenic E. coli. In this review, we have gathered information on current definitions, serotypes, lineages, virulence mechanisms, epidemiology, and diagnosis of the major diarrheagenic E. coli pathotypes.