The invasive ability of C. jejuni/coli strains isolated from children with diarrhea was studied using an in vitro HEp-2 cell invasion assay. The ratio between the number of intracellular bacteria and the number of bacteria in the inoculum was determined (invasion index). It was found that under anaerobic conditions, there was a significant decrease in the invasion index as compared to standard conditions (5% CO2). Of 11 strains tested, seven were determined as invasive on the basis of invasion indexes within the range of 0.0002-0.01. In a previous study [D. Schwartz et al., Zbl. Bakt. 280, 338-347 (1994)], it was found, that most of the C. jejuni/coli isolates tested produced an outer membrane protein when grown under conditions of iron depletion (IRP). The IRP were detected in eight of the nine strains tested in the present study (five invasive and three non-invasive strains). In one non-invasive strain, IRP was not detected. When kept under conditions of iron depletion, one of the invasive strains exhibited a significant increase in invasive capacity. The results suggest that iron depletion seems to stimulate the invasion capacity of C. jejuni/coli in vitro.