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Intra-strain variation in the expression of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) by two clinical isolates of Helicobacter pylori was examined. Lipopolysaccharide was prepared from successive cultures of individual colonies from each strain, separated by SDS-PAGE, and detected by silver staining and by immunoblotting. The genetic 'relatedness' of the colonies was investigated using PCR-RFLP analysis of the urease and vacuolating cytotoxin genes. Although individual colonies of each of the two strains examined appeared to have the same genetic origins, variation in the expression of their long-chain LPS was observed. The same LPS profiles were maintained by individual colonies over four subcultures on solid media containing 10% (v/v) defibrinated horse blood.