Escherichia coli are key players in the emergence and dissemination of antibiotic resistance. These bacteria are usually carried asymptomatically by animals including humans and are exposed more frequently and to a greater range of antibiotics than any other organism. Despite this, there is a dearth of information on antibiotic resistance in E. coli. This is especially true for shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), where the treatment of patients with antibiotics is controversial. This paper provides an overview of the importance of antimicrobial resistance in commensal E. coli and STEC, including a summary of antibiotic resistance in the latter. The molecular basis, transfer, regulation and control of current and emerging resistance are also briefly discussed and future research priorities highlighted to provide the scientific basis for more effective control initiatives.