Diarrhea caused by Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) causes high levels of morbidity and mortality in neonatal piglets. Owing to the abuse of antibiotics and emergence of drug resistance, antibiotics are no longer considered only beneficial, but also potentially harmful drugs. Supplements that can inhibit the growth of bacteria are expected to replace antibiotics. Tea polyphenols have numerous important biological functions, including antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and antihypertensive effects. We investigated the role of tea polyphenols in ETEC K88 infection using a mouse model. Pretreating with tea polyphenols attenuated the symptoms induced by ETEC K88. Furthermore, in a cell adherence assay, tea polyphenols inhibited ETEC K88 adherence to IPEC-J2 cells. When cells were infected with ETEC K88, mRNA and protein levels of claudin-1 were significantly decreased compared with those of control cells. However, when cells were pretreated with tea polyphenols, claudin-1 mRNA and protein levels were higher than those in cells without pretreatment upon cell infection with ETEC K88. TLR2 mRNA levels were also higher following cell infection with ETEC K88 when cells were pretreated with tea polyphenols. These data revealed that tea polyphenols could increase the barrier integrity of IPEC-J2 cells by upregulating expression of claudin-1 through activation of TLR2. Tea polyphenols had beneficial effects on epithelial barrier function. Therefore, tea polyphenols could be used as a novel strategy to control and treat pig infections caused by ETEC K88.Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.