To survive within the host urinary tract, Escherichia coli strains that cause urinary tract infection (UTI) presumably must overcome powerful oxidant stresses, including the oxygen-dependent killing mechanisms of neutrophils. Accordingly, we assessed the global oxygen stress regulator OxyR of Escherichia coli as a possible virulence factor in UTI by determining the impact of oxyR inactivation on experimental urovirulence in CBA/J and C57BL (both wild-type and p47phox-/-) mice. The oxyR and oxyS genes of wild-type E. coli strain Ec1a (O1:K1:H7) were replaced with a kanamycin resistance cassette to produce an oxyRS mutant. During in vitro growth in broth or human urine, the oxyRS mutant exhibited the same log-phase growth rate (broth) and plateau density (broth and urine) as Ec1a, despite its prolonged lag phase (broth) or initial decrease in concentration (urine). The mutant, and oxyRS mutants of other wild-type ExPEC strains, exhibited significantly increased in vitro susceptibility to inhibition by H2O2, which, like the altered growth kinetics observed with oxyRS inactivation, were reversed by restoration of oxyR on a multiple-copy-number plasmid. In CBA/J mice, Ec1a significantly outcompeted its oxyRS mutant (by >1 log10) in urine, bladder, and kidney cultures harvested 48 h after perurethral inoculation of mice, whereas an oxyR-complemented mutant exhibited equal or greater colonizing ability than that of the parent. Although C57BL mice were less susceptible to experimental UTI than CBA/J mice, wild-type and p47phox-/- C57BL mice were similarly susceptible, and the oxyR mutant of Ec1a was similarly attenuated in C57BL mice, regardless of the p47phox genotype, as in CBA/J mice. Within the E. coli Reference collection, 94% of strains were positive for oxyR. These findings fulfill the second and third of Koch's molecular postulates for oxyR as a candidate virulence-facilitating factor in E. coli and indicate that oxyR is a broadly prevalent potential target for future preventive interventions against UTI due to E. coli. They also suggest that neutrophil phagocyte oxidase is not critical for defense against E. coli UTI and that the major oxidative stresses against which OxyR protects E. coli within the host milieu are not phagocyte derived.