Lancefield group G Streptococcus canis is a component of the normal urogenital and pharyngeal flora of the cat. It is also frequently implicated in epizootics of severe disease in closed cat colonies and animal shelters. Given the importance of S canis as a feline pathogen and relative lack of published information on characteristics potentially associated with virulence, the authors have compared isolates from healthy and diseased cats in New York and California using fermentation profiles (biotype) and ScM sequences. With few exceptions, isolates associated with disease were biotype 1. Four alleles of scm were identified of which type 1 dominated in diseased cats. Type 4 allelic variants were found only in healthy cats and all but one were biotype 2. Type 2 and 3 alleles showed extensive N-terminal variation suggesting a plasminogen-binding site as found on the type 1 allele was absent. Cat antisera to ScM were opsonobactericidal, and these potentially protective antibodies increased during convalescence.