Objective To characterise commensal Escherichia coli and other Enterobacteriaceae with reduced susceptibility to cefotaxime that were collected in a large survey carried out among 3995 patients and healthy persons in two urban regions on Java, Indonesia, in 20012002. Methods The putative extended-spectrum b-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae were analysed using double-disk synergy tests, isoelectric focusing, PCR assays, DNA sequencing, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Results On the day of discharge after five or more days of hospitalisation, at least 95 of 999 (9.5%) patients carried ESBL-positive Enterobacteriaceae as dominant faecal flora. Six patients were simultaneously colonised with E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates with ESBL activity. On admission, only 6 of 998 (0.6%) patients were colonised. Faecal carriage of ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae among healthy persons or persons visiting a public health centre was not detected. The 107 ESBLpos Conclusions In 2001-2002, faecal carriage of ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae as dominant flora in Indonesia was almost exclusively hospital-associated. The presence of various blaESBL genes and the extensive genetic diversity among isolates argue against a single / dominant strain outbreak.