The inhibition of the attachment of bacteria to the intestine by receptor analogues could be a novel approach to prevent enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) K88-induced diarrhoea in piglets. The objective of the present study was to screen the ability of different feed ingredients (FI) to bind to ETEC K88 (adhesion test, AT) and to block its attachment to the porcine intestinal mucus (blocking test, BT) using in vitro microtitration-based models. In the AT, wheat bran (WB), casein glycomacropeptide (CGMP) and exopolysaccharides exhibited the highest adhesion to ETEC K88 (P< 0·001). In the BT, WB, CGMP and locust bean (LB) reduced the number of ETEC K88 attached to the intestinal mucus (P< 0·001). For WB and LB, fractionation based on their carbohydrate components was subsequently carried out, and each fraction was evaluated individually. None of the WB fractions reduced the adhesion of ETEC K88 to the mucus as did the original extract, suggesting that a protein or glycoprotein could be involved in the recognition process. With regard to the LB fractions, the water-extractable material reduced the adhesion of ETEC K88 (P< 0·001) to the mucus similar to the original extract (P< 0·001), indicating, in this case, that galactomannans or phenolic compounds could be responsible for the recognition process. In conclusion, among the FI screened, the soluble extracts obtained from WB, LB and CGMP exhibited the highest anti-adhesive properties against ETEC K88 in the BT. These results suggest that they may be good candidates to be included in diets of weaned piglets for the prevention of ETEC K88-induced diarrhoea.