Seventy-four Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) isolates belonging to the serotype O91:H21 were isolated from 1,643 asymptomatic human carriers in a STEC outbreak at Gwangju in Korea. Although the isolates did not cause any symptoms, all of them produced Shiga toxins 1 (Stx1) and 2 (Stx2). In order to determine why these strains cause no symptoms, we explored the differences in virulence potential between the asymptomatic STEC O91:H21 isolates and symptomatic STEC O91:H21 strains (ATCC 51435 and ATCC 51434). The asymptomatic STEC O91:H21 isolates showed strongly reduced cytopathic effects compared with the symptomatic strains when intact bacterial cells were used as an inoculant. Moreover, we found a reduced adherence phenotype when testing asymptomatic strains on HeLa cells. Real-time quantitative PCR results suggest that transcriptional repression of the genes encoding type-1 fimbriae occurs in the asymptomatic isolates but not in the symptomatic strains.