Whole genome DNA microarrays were constructed and used to investigate genomic diversity in 18 Campylobacter jejuni strains from diverse sources. New algorithms were developed that dynamically determine the boundary between the conserved and variable genes. Seven hypervariable plasticity regions (PR) were identified in the genome (PR1 to PR7) containing 136 genes (50%) of the variable gene pool. When comparisons were made with the sequenced strain NCTC11168, the number of absent or divergent genes ranged from 2.6% (40 genes) to 10.2% (163) and in total 16.3% (269) of the genes were variable. PR1 contains genes important in the utilisation of alternative electron acceptors for respiration and may confer a selective advantage to strains in restricted oxygen environments. PR2, 3 and 7 contain many outer membrane and periplasmic proteins and hypothetical proteins of unknown function that might be linked to phenotypic variation and adaptation to different ecological niches. PR4, 5 and 6 contain genes involved in the production and modification of antigenic surface structures.