The genetic structure of populations of Legionella pneumophila was defined by an analysis of electrophoretically demonstrable allelic variation at structural genes encoding 22 enzymes in 292 isolates from clinical and environmental sources. Nineteen of the loci were polymorphic, and 62 distinctive electrophoretic types (ETs), representing multilocus genotypes, were identified. Principal coordinates and clustering analyses demonstrated that isolates received as L. pneumophila were a heterogeneous array of genotypes that included two previously undescribed species. For 50 ETs of L. pneumophila (strict sense), mean genetic diversity per locus was 0.312, and diversity was equivalent in ETs represented by isolates recovered from clinical sources and those collected from environmental sources. Cluster analysis revealed four major groups or lineages of ETs in L. pneumophila. Genetic diversity among ETs of the same serotype was, on average, 93% of that in the total sample of ETs. Isolates marked by particular patterns of reactivity to a panel of nine monoclonal antibodies were also genetically heterogeneous, mean diversity within patterns being about 75% of the total. Both Pontiac fever and the pneumonic form of legionellosis may be caused by isolates of the same ET. The genetic structure of L. pneumophila is clonal, and many clones apparently are worldwide in distribution. The fact that L. pneumophila is only 60% as variable as Escherichia coli raises the possibility that isolates recovered from clinical cases and man-made environments are a restricted subset of all clones in the species as a whole.