The role of the Escherichia coli iron-regulated gene homologue adhesin (Iha) in the pathogenesis of urinary tract infections (UTIs) is unknown. We performed a series of complementary analyses to confirm or refute the hypothesis that Iha is a virulence factor in uropathogenic E. coli. Fecal E. coli isolates exhibited significantly lower prevalences of iha (range, 14 to 22%) than did clinical isolates from cases of pediatric cystitis or pyelonephritis, adult pyelonephritis or urosepsis, or bacteremia (range, 38 to 74%). Recombinant Iha from E. coli pyelonephritis isolate CFT073 conferred upon nonadherent E. coli ORN172 the ability to adhere to cultured T-24 human uroepithelial cells. In a well-established mouse model of ascending UTI, CFT073 and its derivative UPEC76 (a pap [P fimbriae] mutant version of strain CFT073) each significantly outcompeted their respective iha deletion mutants in CBA/J mice 48 h after bladder challenge (P < 0.03 for urine, both kidneys, and bladders of both constructs, except for bladders of mice challenged with UPEC76 and its deletion mutant, where P = 0.11). These data suggest that IhaCFT073 is a virulence factor and might be a target for anti-UTI interventions.