A group of 25 strains of Toxoplasma gondii (4 mouse-virulent strains and 21 mouse-avirulent strains) were tested by immunoblot with 4 monoclonal antibodies (MAb) against surface antigen P22. Parasite lysates from only 12 strains were recognized by all 4 MAbs, while lysates from the remaining 13 strains (all avirulent) were not recognized by any of the 4 MAbs. Strains not recognized by the 4 MAbs were found to express an altered form of the P22 antigen. Sequencing of the P22 genes from 10 strains revealed only 2 alleles. One allele is identical to the gene from the virulent RH strain. The second allele carries 5 single nucleotide substitutions and an insertion of a GGT triplet when compared to the allele from the RH strain. Four of the 5 nucleotide changes result in amino acid substitutions and the triplet insertion results in an extra glycine residue. Four of the single base changes also result in restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP). RFLP analysis of the P22 gene revealed only 2 patterns among the 25 strains. The allele of the P22 gene correlated with reactivity of the 4 MAbs to lysates of each strain. However, the allele of the P22 gene did not correlate with the virulence of each strain for mice.