Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) is a major bacterial infectious disease that may lead to local or systemic infections in chickens with clinical manifestations. The irp2-fyuA gene cluster has been confirmed to be the main genes involved in the synthesis of HPI. The objective of this study was to determine the influence of the irp2 and fyuA genes in the high pathogenicity island (HPI) of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) on its pathogenicity by knocking out these genes. The ΔAE17 (lacking irp2) and ΔΔAE17 (lacking irp2 and fyuA) strains of APEC were constructed. The ΔAE17 and ΔΔAE17 strains showed significantly impaired capacity to adhere onto DF-1 cells. The LD50 results indicated that the virulence of the ΔAE17 and ΔΔAE17 strains was decreased in comparison with that of the AE17 strain. We concluded that the knock-out of the core HPI genes weakened APEC adhesion onto DF-1 cells, inhibited transcription of virulence genes, and reduced pathogenicity in chicks. The effects of genetic deletion of irp2 and fyuA on APEC were more severe than those produced by deletion of irp2 only, indicating that irp2 and fyuA co-regulate APEC pathogenicity.