Examination of several hundred penicillin-resistant clinical isolates of Streptococcus pneumoniae has revealed extensive strain-to-strain variation in the number and molecular size of penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs). This polymorphism has been used to classify resistant isolates into groups (PBP families) that share distinct electrophoretic profiles. We describe herein properties of four such PBP families: two from Spain (and/or Ohio) and one each from Hungary and Alaska. We have discovered that representative isolates assigned to each PBP family also share capsular serotype, antibiotic resistance pattern, pneumococcal surface protein A type, and multilocus enzyme genotype. The results demonstrate independent clonal origin for strains assigned to each PBP family. Each resistant clone occurs with uniquely high incidence within specific geographic areas.