The rotavirus VP4 protein elicits the production of neutralizing antibodies and is known to play a role in inducing resistance to disease. At least five human rotavirus VP4 gene alleles have been described on the basis of antigenic polymorphism and/or nucleotide sequence differences. In the present study, we developed cDNA probes directed at the hyperdivergent region of the VP4 gene of the five described human rotavirus VP4 alleles (Wa, DS1, M37, AU228, and 69M) and used them in hybridization assays with human rotavirus strains from Latin America and Europe to determine the distribution of the VP4 gene alleles in nature. The Wa-like allele was detected most frequently, occurring in 57% of the 402 rotavirus strains tested, and the DS1-like allele was the next most common, occurring in 14% of the strains tested. The M37- and AU228-like alleles were detected in only 4 and 3% of the rotavirus strains tested, respectively, whereas the 69M-like VP4 gene allele was not detected. Several rotavirus strains from Europe did not react with any of the VP4 gene probes, although they did hybridize to a probe generated from a representative strain from the group. These data indicate the global distribution of various VP4 gene alleles and raise the possibility that other, unrecognized human VP4 alleles exist in nature because almost one- fourth of the strains could not be classified into any of the established VP4 groups.