Considerable genomic microdiversity has been reported previously among Helicobacter pylori isolates. We have constructed genome maps of four unrelated H. pylori strains (NCTC11637, NCTC11639, UA802 and UA861) using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) with NotI and NruI, hybridization with extracted PFGE DNA fragments and probing with 17 gene probes. These strains of H. pylori were compared with a fifth unrelated H. pylori strain NCTC11638 mapped previously. Considerable diversity in gene arrangement was evident among the five H. pylori maps, and no consistent gene clustering was found. The association of only four genes, katA (catalase gene), vacA (vacuolating cytotoxin gene), hpaA (a putative adhesin gene), and pfr (bacterial ferritin gene) were generally conserved within approximately the same 25% of the genome; however, the order of these genes also varied. Our study demonstrates that macrodiversity, i.e. variability in gene order, in addition to microdiversity, is a characteristic of the H. pylori genome.