- The shape of Escherichia coli is approximately that of a cylinder with hemispherical caps. Since its size is not much larger than optical resolution, it has been difficult to quantify deviations from this approximation. We show that one can bypass this limitation and obtain the cell shape with subpixel accuracy. The resulting contours are shown to deviate from the hemisphere-cylinder-hemisphere shape. In particular, the cell is weakly asymmetric. Its two caps are different from each other and the sides are slightly curved. Most cells have convex sides. We discuss our results in light of several mechanisms that are involved in determining the shape of cells.