Molecular methods allow an extremely fine strain typing that can be used to establish the population structure of bacterial species. This methodology has been used to characterize a collection of 74 uropathogenic Escherichia coli obtained from three hospitals located in geographically distant towns in Spain, some representatives of the ECOR collection and other reference strains. Genomic DNA was analyzed by RAPD (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA) that can characterize a bacterial strain to the level of defining individual clones. The 16S rDNA-23S rDNA spacers were amplified by PCR and submitted to restriction analysis. Finally, the presence or absence of G adhesins in Escherichia coli as well as the type of adhesin (three types are known) have been shown by PCR amplification followed by digestion with restriction enzymes. As expected a wide diversity was shown by RAPD and identical patterns were only found in the case of strains isolated from the same individual, an obvious case of relapse. Analysis of the spacers' restriction patterns showed the presence of two markedly differentiated clusters that we have named alpha and beta. Both RAPD and spacer restriction patterns originated similar clusters of strains showing a consistency in the evolution of the global genome with the sequence variation of the ribosomal spacers. Furthermore, most of the strains having G-adhesin, with only a few exceptions, corresponded to the alpha rRNA spacer group. The two spacer types detected were also consistent with some phenotypic markers such as sucrose and raffinose utilization. The alpha and beta clusters could be intraspecific groups produced by partial sexual isolation or other barriers that are originating a divergent evolution.