Pathogenicity islands (PAIs) have been identified in several bacterial species. A PAI called high-pathogenicity island (HPI) and carrying genes involved in iron acquisition (yersiniabactin system) has been previously identified in Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pestis. In this study, the HPI of the third species of Yersinia pathogenic for humans, Y. pseudotuberculosis, has been characterized. We demonstrate that the HPI of strain IP32637 has a physical and genetic map identical to that of Y. pestis. A gene homologous to the bacteriophage P4 integrase gene is located downstream of the asn tRNA locus that borders the HPI of strain IP32637. This int gene is at the same position on the HPI of all three pathogenic Yersinia species. However, in contrast to Y. pestis 6/69, the HPI of Y. pseudotuberculosis IP32637 is not invariably adjacent to the pigmentation segment and can be inserted at a distance > or = 190 kb from this segment. Also, in contrast to Y. pestis and Y. enterocolitica, the HPI of Y. pseudotuberculosis IP32637 can precisely excise from the chromosome, and, strikingly, it can be found inserted in any of the three asn tRNA loci present on the chromosome of this species, one of which is adjacent to the pigmentation segment. The pigmentation segment, which is present in Y. pestis but not in Y. enterocolitica, is also present and well conserved in all strains of Y. pseudotuberculosis studied. In contrast, the presence and size of the HPIs vary depending on the serotype of the strain: an entire HPI is found in strains of serotypes I only, a HPI with a 9 kb truncation in its left-hand part that carries the IS100 sequence and the psn and ybtE genes characterizes the strains of serotype III, and no HPI is found in strains of serotypes II, IV and V.