Previous studies examining the clonal diversity of Escherichia coli populations within humans have been based on faecal isolates. In this study E.coli were isolated from biopsies taken from the terminal ileum, ascending, transverse and descending colon, and rectum of 69 individuals. Multiple isolates from each biopsy were characterized using Rep-PCR. An average of 3.5 genotypes were recovered per host, and in hosts with two or more strains, the phylogroup membership of the second most abundant strain was significantly more likely to be the same as the dominant strain. There was no indication of a non-random distribution of E.coli phylogroups among the regions of the lower intestine. In hosts with multiple genotypes, as defined by Repetitive extragenic palindromic-PCR, genotypes were non-randomly distributed among gut regions in over half the individuals. The phylogroup membership of an individual's numerically dominant strain explained some of the variation in the extent to which strains within an individual were heterogeneously distributed, with most heterogeneity observed when the numerically dominant strain belonged to phylogroups E or F, and the least when the dominant strain belonged to phylogroup B2. The results of this study support previous studies on pigs that demonstrated faecal sampling underestimates the genotype diversity present within a host.