Cag pathogenicity island-containing Helicobacter pylori (type I) induces signal transduction pathways resulting in tyrosine phosphorylation of proteins adjacent to the site of bacterial adhesion on host gastric epithelial cells. Conventional block PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and real-time LightCycler (LC) PCR hybridization assays, validated by direct sequencing, were designed to test for the presence of three nucleotide sequences corresponding to tyrosine phosphorylation motifs (TPMs) A, B, and C in 84 isolates of H. pylori type I from patients in England. Overall, the PCR assays demonstrated that one or more TPMs were present in 62 strains (75%). Motif A was common (71% of strains), whereas motifs B and C were rarer (8% of strains). Strains lacking a TPM were typically vacuolating cytotoxin genotype vaca m2. Motif A was widely distributed in relation to disease severity and was more commonly (but not significantly [P = 0.071]) associated with gastric ulcer than with duodenal ulcer (86 versus 56%). The LC hybridization assay provided a rapid means of detecting all three motifs, but RFLP analysis was more specific for TPM-A. TPMs provide novel additional strain markers for defining caga variation, including identification of RFLP types within TPM-A. The presence of a particular TPM was not of direct diagnostic value, either singly or in combination, but the higher proportion of TPM-A strains in gastric ulcer patients merits further investigation.