The Matlab variants of Vibrio cholerae O1, defined as hybrids between the classical and El Tor biotypes, were first isolated from hospitalized patients with acute secretory diarrhoea in Matlab, a rural area of Bangladesh. These variants could not be categorized as classical or El Tor biotypes by phenotypic and genotypic tests, and had representative traits of both the biotypes. A number of virulence-associated genes and/or gene clusters were screened by PCR and DNA sequencing. El Tor-specific gene clusters, Vibrio seventh-pandemic islands (VSP)-I and -II and repeat toxin (RTX) were present in the genome of these variants, indicating their El Tor lineage, whereas the nucleotide-sequence-derived CtxB amino acid sequence of these strains grouped them under the classical biotype. Matlab variants possessed all the necessary genes to initiate pandemics. The genetic relatedness of Matlab variants to the V. cholerae strains recently isolated in Mozambique is another important observation of this study, which underscores the epidemiological significance of Matlab variants.