Restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) were used to study the population genetics and temporal dynamics of the cassava bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis. The population dynamics were addressed by comparing samples collected from 1995 to 1999 from six locations, spanning four different edaphoclimatic zones (ECZs). Forty-five different X. axonopodis pv. manihotis RFLP types or haplotypes were identified between 1995 and 1999. High genetic diversity of the X. axonopodis pv. manihotis strains was evident within most of the fields sampled. In all but one site, diversity decreased over time within fields. Haplotype frequencies significantly differed over the years in all but one location. Studies of the rate of change of X. axonopodis pv. manihotis populations during the cropping cycle in two sites showed significant changes in the haplotype frequencies but not composition. However, variations in pathotype composition were observed from one year to the next at a single site in ECZs 1 and 2 and new pathotypes were described after 1997 in these ECZs, thus revealing the dramatic change in the pathogen population structure of X. axonopodis pv. manihotis. Disease incidence was used to show the progress of cassava bacterial blight in Colombia during the 5-year period in different ecosystems. Low disease incidence values were correlated with low rainfall in 1997 in ECZ 1.