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The main objective of this study was to evaluate the growth and survival of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O26 in cow slurry; this serogroup is regarded as an important cause of STEC-associated diseases.Four STEC were examined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine whether they harbour key virulence determinants and also by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to obtain overview fingerprints of their genomes. They were transformed with the pGFPuv plasmid and were separately inoculated at a level of 106 CFU ml−1 in 15 l of cow slurry. All STEC O26 strains could be detected for at least 3 months in cow slurry without any genetic changes. The moisture content of the slurry decreased over time to reach a final value of 75% while the pH increased from 8·5 to 9·5 units during the last 50 days.STEC O26 strains were able to survive in cow slurry for an extended period.Long-term storage of waste slurry should be required to reduce the pathogen load and to limit environmental contamination by STEC O26.