The magA gene was sought in hypermucoviscous isolates of Klebsiella spp., the Klebsiella K serotype reference strains and in isolates of the K1 serotype of Klebsiella pneumoniae from the UK, Hong Kong, Israel, Taiwan and Australia. Only K1 isolates were PCR positive for magA; this gene was found in all such isolates tested. Hypermucoviscosity was not confined to magA positive isolates, nor was it found in all magA positive isolates. Comparison of XbaI PFGE profiles revealed that most (19/23) of the magA positive isolates clustered within 72 % similarity, with a further subcluster of isolates, from three different continents, clustering within >80 %. All of the 16 isolates tested within the main cluster had the same sequence type (ST 23) by multilocus sequence typing, with the exception of one isolate, which had a single nucleotide difference at one of the seven loci. This study indicates that a genotype strongly associated with highly invasive disease in Taiwan, where large numbers of cases have been reported, is geographically very widespread.