A study was undertaken to investigate the diversity of noroviruses (NVs) in fecal samples from patients from 529 outbreaks and 141 sporadic cases of gastroenteritis in the North of England from September 1998 to August 2001. NV strains were detected by electron microscopy and characterized by a combination of the Grimsby virus antigen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, reverse transcriptase PCR, the heteroduplex mobility assay, and DNA sequencing. Twenty-one distinct NV strains, including several novel or variant strains not seen previously, were found circulating in the population studied. Genogroup II NVs were responsible for 83% of the outbreaks. Several strains cocirculated at any one time. The Bristol (Grimsby/Lordsdale) and Hawaii (Girlington) genotypes were the most prevalent among the NVs identified, detected in 49 and 20% of the outbreaks, respectively. A limited number of other genogroup II and I strains were cocirculating. The virus populations detected in hospitals and nursing homes were distinct from those found in community-based outbreaks. Outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes were more likely to be caused by genogroup 11 strain Grimsby or Girlington (P < 0.0001) than by other genogroup II or I strains.