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To obtain the genetic structure of Plasmodium vivax populations in the northern and southern malaria-endemic areas in Iran, which differ in endemicity, sequence diversity in the variable block 5 and the C-terminal part of P. vivax merozoite surface protein 1 (Pvmsp 1) was analyzed. The variable block 5 fragment from 52 northern and 94 southern isolates was amplified and sequenced. Type 1, type 2, and recombinant type 3 allelic variants were found in both northern and southern isolates, with type 1 predominant in parasites from the north and type 2 in those from the south. A total of 7 and 27 distinct variants were detected among northern and southern isolates, respectively. A single variant predominated (71%) in the northern isolates, whereas variants were evenly distributed among southern isolates, with only two exceeding 10%. Thus, parasites from the southern malaria-endemic area were more polymorphic than those circulating in the northern area, where malaria is a re-emerging disease. Sequence alignments showed that although some variants were found only in northern or southern isolates, some were common to both and had also been observed in parasites from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Thailand, Bangladesh, and China. The Pvmsp 1 fragment corresponding to the C-terminal region was also amplified and the sequences derived from 20 northern and 50 southern isolates were identical. This high degree of conservation reinforces the potential of this polypeptide fragment for inclusion in synthetic vaccines being developed against P. vivax.