Uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) is the most frequent cause of urinary tract infection (UTI), being responsible for up to 85% of community acquired and 40% of nosocomial cases. UPEC strains harbour various virulence factors that contribute to their ability to cause disease. The high prevalence across the globe of multidrug resistant UPEC is a significant threat to therapy. Virulent and resistant UPEC strains have been recognised as belonging to major lineages and we have only recently begun to understand the factors contributing to their successful global dissemination.Work in this thesis was carried out to identify the population structure of E. coli isolates recovered from urosepsis and biliary sepsis, to reveal any differences in genetic background. A total of 100 isolates from the blood and urine of 50 patients presenting with urosepsis and 27 isolates from cases of biliary sepsis were subjected to genotypic and phenotypic analysis, including MLST, virulence gene detection and antibiogram and metabolic profiling. Urosepsis paired isolates showed identical genotypes and antimicrobial resistance profiles. However, several pairs of isolates showed discrepant metabolic activity profiles suggesting niche specific regulation of metabolism. Members of the ST131 clone were significantly associated with antibiotic resistance and ST38 isolates were associated with the highest level of metabolic activity.An in vivo infection model was used to investigate the virulence potential of isolates from the major UPEC lineages. Galleria mellonella larvae inoculated with ST69 and ST127 isolates showed significantly higher mortality rates than those infected with other strains. However, one isolate of ST127 (strain EC18) was avirulent and comparative genomic analyses with a single virulent ST127 strain revealed an IS1 mediated deletion in the O-antigen cluster in strain EC18, which is likely to explain the lack of virulence in the larvae and demonstrates the importance of this cell surface molecule in the model system.Finally, a total of 202 UPEC isolates were recovered from community and hospital urine samples from a tertiary care hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Molecular epidemiological investigation of the strains was carried out to examine the overall UPEC population structure, for the first time in any part of Saudi Arabia. The most common lineages were ST131 (17.3%), ST73 (11.4%), ST38 (7.4%), ST69 (7.4%) and ST10 (6.4%). The findings highlight the successful spread of multidrug resistant, CTX-M positive ST38, ST131 and ST405 UPEC in Saudi Arabia. The high proportion (35%) of ESBL producing E. coli isolates is a particular concern and is driving frequent prescription of carbapenem antibiotics. A total of four isolates of ST38 were positive for aggR, which is a virulence marker of enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC); ST38 strains that cause UTI but have an EAEC genetic background are becoming recognised as novel UPEC and this clonal group warrants further study.