Sixty-one clinical strains of Vibrio cholerae O1 El Tor isolated in Calcutta before, during, and after the V. cholerae O139 Bengal outbreak were examined to see if the O1 strains of the post-O139 period were different from those in existence before. Comparison of the restriction fragment length polymorphism of the rRNA genes (ribotyping) and the CTX genetic element revealed that all "before" strains except 1 belonged to a single known ribotype, whereas all "after" strains except 2 belonged to a hitherto undescribed ribotype. Also, 23 of 25 "before" strains harbored two or more copies of CTX in tandem and also a "free" RS1 element away from CTX, whereas 19 of 21 "after" strains had a single copy of CTX and no free RS1 element. CTX occupied different chromosomal locations in "before" and "after" strains. These studies clearly showed that El Tor O1 strains, which displaced V. cholerae O139 in Calcutta, belonged to a new clone and suggested that there is a continuous genetic reassortment among El Tor strains of V. cholerae O1.