Background Coliform mastitis is a symptom of postpartum dysgalactia syndrome (PDS), a multifactorial infectious disease of sows. Our previous study showed gene expression profile change after bacterial challenge of porcine mammary epithelial cells (PMECs). These mRNA expression changes may be regulated through microRNAs (miRNAs) which play critical roles in biological processes. Therefore, miRNA expression profile was investigated in PMECs. Results PMECs were isolated from three lactating sows and challenged with heat-inactivated potential mastitis-causing pathogen Escherichia coli (E. coli) for 3 h and 24 h, in vitro. At 3 h post-challenge with E. coli, target gene prediction identified a critical role of miRNAs in regulation of host immune responses and homeostasis of PMECs mediated by affecting pathways including cytokine binding (miR-202, miR-3277, miR-4903); IL-10/PPAR signaling (miR-3277, miR-4317, miR-548); and NF-ĸB/TNFR2 signaling (miR-202, miR-2262, miR-885-3p). Target genes of miRNAs in PMECs at 24 h were significantly enriched in pathways associated with interferon signaling (miR-210, miR-23a, miR-1736) and protein ubiquitination (miR-125, miR-128, miR-1280). Conclusions This study provides first large-scale miRNA expression profiles and their predicted target genes in PMECs after contact with a potential mastitis-causing E. coli strain. Both, highly conserved miRNAs known from other species as well as novel miRNAs were identified in PMECs, representing candidate predictive biomarkers for PDS. Time-dependent pathogen clearance suggests an important role of PMECs in inflammatory response of the first cellular barrier of the porcine mammary gland.