Classification of Ontario porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) field isolates (n = 505) from 1999 to 2010, based on a global type 2 PRRSV ORF5 phylogenetic framework, revealed genetic diversity comparable to PRRSV in the USA, with sequences assigned to five of nine lineages (1, 2, 5, 8 and 9). Importantly, the tree topology indicated a Canadian ancestry for the highly virulent MN184-related strains that first emerged in 2001 in the USA. Mapping of the RFLP patterns onto the phylogenetic tree revealed numerous examples of different RFLP patterns located within the same phylogenetic cluster. Statistical analysis showed occurrences where similar RFLP patterns masked diverse genetic distances and instances of close genetic proximity with divergent RFLP patterns. Collectively, extensive genetic diversity prevails in type 2 PRRSV in one region of the North American swine industry, and it is not described adequately by RFLP typing, which might have value in differentiating strains at the local farm level.