To understand the pattern of nucleotide sequence variation among bacteria that frequently exchange chromosomal genes, we analyzed sequences of the recA, argF, and rho genes, as well as part of the small-subunit (16S) rRNA gene, from about 50 isolates of human commensal Neisseria species and the pathogenic N. meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae. Almost all isolates of these species could be assigned to five phylogenetic groups that are found for all genes examined and generally are supported by high bootstrap values. In contrast, the phylogenetic relationships among groups varied according to the gene analyzed with notable incongruences involving N. cinerea and N. lactamica. Further analysis using split decomposition showed that for each gene, including 16S rRNA, the patterns of sequence divergence within N. meningitidis and closely related species were inconsistent with a bifurcating treelike phylogeny and better represented by an interconnected network. These data indicate that the human commensal Neisseria species can be separated into discrete groups of related species but that the relationships both within and among these groups, including those reconstructed using 16S rRNA, have been distorted by interspecies recombination events.