The aim of this study was to investigate contamination of carcasses and abattoir environment with Escherichia coli O157:H7. Five abattoirs in Istanbul were visited between January 2000 and April 2001. During visits, sampling was performed and a total of 330 cattle were selected. Cattle were examined for the presence of faeces on the hide (abdomen and legs) before slaughter. The swabs from the carcasses and environmental samples (abattoir floor, benches including conveyors, knives, aprons, saws, hooks, hands) were taken at the abattoir immediately after slaughter using sterile cotton swabs. A sample from the wash water of the abattoir was also taken. Preenrichment, immunomagnetic separation and CT-SMAC agar were used for the isolation. The reaction of the isolates with anti-O157 and H7 antisera were also analysed. Twelve strains (3.6%) of E. coli O157 were isolated from the cattle carcasses and eight (2.4%) of them gave positive reaction with anti-H:7. Six strains of E. coli O157 were isolated from the environmental samples and all strains were positive for H7. The number of E. coli O157H:7 strains isolated from the environmental samples was two from the knife, two from the hands, one from the apron and one from the floor. No E. coli O157 was isolated from the abattoir water. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.