We evaluated the effects of contraceptive method on the occurrence of bacteriuria and vaginal colonization with Escherichia coli in 104 women who were evaluated prior to having sexual intercourse, the morning after intercourse, and 24 hours later. After intercourse, the prevalence of E coli bacteriuria increased slightly in oral contraceptive users but dramatically in both foam and condom users and diaphragm-spermicide users. Twenty-four hours later, the prevalence of bacteriuria remained significantly elevated only in the latter two groups. Similarly, vaginal colonization with E coli was more dramatic and persistent in users of diaphragm-spermicide and foam and condoms. Vaginal colonization with Candida species, enterococci, and staphylococci also increased significantly in diaphragm-spermicide users after intercourse. We conclude that use of the diaphragm with spermicidal jelly or use of a spermicidal foam with a condom markedly alters normal vaginal flora and strongly predisposes users to the development of vaginal colonization and bacteriuria with E coli.