During 2003, Vibrio cholerae O1 Ogawa was the predominant serotype among diarrhoeal patients admitted to different hospitals in India. With the exception of 3 strains from Kolkata, none of 172 strains examined exhibited resistance to tetracycline, but 45.7 % showed reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin. Extensive molecular characterization using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analysis, ribotyping and PFGE revealed that almost all the strains within a serogroup were clonally related. Along with the H pulsotype, a newly described L pulsotype of recently emerged O1 Inaba strains was detected among the O1 Ogawa strains from 2003. The striking similarity in their molecular properties and antibiograms indicated that at least certain clones of recently emerged Inaba strains from 2004 may have evolved from O1 Ogawa strains. This view was further supported by the detection of a nearly identical wbeT region among the O1 Ogawa and recently emerged Inaba strains, the latter differing only by a single point mutation. Since 2003, a hiatus in the isolation of serogroup O139 was observed and these strains share the same PFGE profiles as those isolated during 2000. Organization of tandemly arranged CTX(El), CTX(Cal) and truncated CTX(Cal) (devoid of ctxAB) prophages was unique among the majority of these O139 strains.