The history, current situation and control measures for infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) variants are reviewed. A large number of IBV variants exist worldwide; some being unique to a particular area, others having a more general distribution. The possible reasons why some strains spread readily over major parts of the world, whereas other strains stay more localized are discussed. The advantages and disadvantages of strain classification by protectotyping, serotyping and genotyping are discussed in relation to in vivo protection. The different vaccination strategies are also considered.