Epidemiological studies of group A streptococcus (GAS) have noted an inverse relationship between SpeB expression and invasive disease. However, the role of SpeB in the course of infection is still unclear. In this study we utilize a SpeB-negative M1T1 clinical isolate, 5628, with a naturally occurring mutation in the gene encoding the regulator RopB, to elucidate the role of RopB and SpeB in systemic virulence. Allelic exchange mutagenesis was used to replace the mutated ropB allele in 5628 with the intact allele from the well characterized isolate 5448. The inverse allelic exchange was also performed to replace the intact ropB in 5448 with the mutated allele from 5628. An intact ropB was found to be essential for SpeB expression. While the ropB mutation was shown to have no effect on hemolysis of RBC's, extracellular DNase activity or survival in the presence of neutrophils, strains with the mutated ropB allele were less virulent in murine systemic models of infection. An isogenic SpeB knockout strain containing an intact RopB showed similarly reduced virulence. Microarray analysis found genes of the SpeB operon to be the primary target of RopB regulation. These data show that an intact RopB and efficient SpeB production are necessary for systemic infection with GAS.