Clostridium perfringens is a Gram-positive, anaerobic spore-forming bacterium commonly found in soil, sediments, and the human gastrointestinal tract. C. perfringens is responsible for a wide spectrum of disease, including food poisoning, gas gangrene (clostridial myonecrosis), enteritis necroticans, and non-foodborne gastrointestinal infections. The complete genome sequences of Clostridium perfringens strain ATCC 13124, a gas gangrene isolate and the species type strain, and the enterotoxin-producing food poisoning strain SM101, were determined and compared with the published C. perfringens strain 13 genome. Comparison of the three genomes revealed considerable genomic diversity with >300 unique "genomic islands" identified, with the majority of these islands unusually clustered on one replichore. PCR-based analysis indicated that the large genomic islands are widely variable across a large collection of C. perfringens strains. These islands encode genes that correlate to differences in virulence and phenotypic characteristics of these strains. Significant differences between the strains include numerous novel mobile elements and genes encoding metabolic capabilities, strain-specific extracellular polysaccharide capsule, sporulation factors, toxins, and other secreted enzymes, providing substantial insight into this medically important bacterial pathogen.