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Genomic DNA libraries were constructed for Chlamydia trachomatis serovars B and C by using BamHI fragments, and recombinants that contained the major outer membrane protein (omp1) gene for each serovar were identified and sequenced. Comparisons between these gene sequences and the gene from serovar L2 demonstrated fewer base pair differences between serovars L2 and B than between L2 and C; this finding is consistent with the serologic and antigenic relationships among these serovars. The translated amino acid sequence for the major outer membrane proteins (MOMPs) contained the same number of amino acids for serovars L2 and B, whereas the serovar C MOMP contained three additional amino acids. The antigenic diversity of the chlamydial MOMP was reflected in four sequence-variable domains, and two of these domains were candidates for the putative type-specific antigenic determinant. The molecular basis of omp1 gene diversity among C. trachomatis serovars was observed to be clustered nucleotide substitutions for closely related serovars and insertions or deletions for distantly related serovars.