A year-long community-based study of diarrhoeal diseases was conducted in Canto Grande, a periurban community in Lima, Peru. In 109 (34%) houses out of 323 that were visited, at least one individual was detected with shigellosis. The frequency of the 161 shigella isolates obtained was as follows: 117 S. flexneri (73%), 21 S. boydii (13%), 15 S. dysenteriae (9%), and 8 S. sonnei (5%). Using a non-radioactive ipaH gene probe as a molecular epidemiological tool, a total of 41 S. flexneri strains were shown to be distributed in 25 intra-family comparisons by pairs (icp). Further subdivision, based on a comparison of the serotype, plasmid profile, antibiotic resistances and ipaH hybridization patterns indicated that Group I, with 11 icp (44%), had strains that were identical, Group II with 8 icp (32%), had strains that were different and Group III with 6 icp (24%), had strains with the same serotype and identical ipaH profiles but with differences in other markers. This data indicates that a diversity of shigella clones circulated in this community resulting from both clonal spread and horizontal transfer of genetic elements. Furthermore, ipaH profiling of isolates can be used not only to differentiate between closely related shigella strains but also with other parameters, help to understand the dynamics of the generation of new clones of pathogenic bacteria.