We examined geographically distinct isolates of Plasmodium vivax and categorized them according to developmental success in Anopheles albimanus. We found that parasites from Central America and Colombia form a group distinct from those of Asia. New World isolates have a distinct chromosomal translocation and an episomal variation in the open reading frame (ORF) 470 DNA sequence that distinguishes them from the other isolates tested. Old World types of P. vivax were introduced into the Americas, and a remnant of this lineage remains in P. simium. It is indistinguishable from Old World P. vivax to the extent determinable by using our encoded markers and the examination of its developmental pattern in mosquitoes. The cohesive characteristics that separate types of P. vivax are predictors of range and potential for transmission and hence require taxonomic distinction.