The molecular epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was studied over four consecutive seasons (1997-2000) in a single tertiary hospital in South Africa: 225 isolates were subgrouped by RT-PCR and the resulting products sequenced. Subgroup A predominated in two seasons, while A and B co-circulated approximately equally in the other seasons. The nucleotide sequences of the C-terminal of the G-protein were compared to sequences representative of previously defined RSV genotypes. South African subgroup A and subgroup B isolates clustered into four and five genotypes respectively. One new subgroup A and three new subgroup B genotypes were identified. Different genotypes co-circulated in every season. Different circulation patterns were identified for group A and B isolates. Subgroup A revealed more variability and displacement of genotypes while subgroup B remained more consistent.