The epidemiology of serotype SAT-2 foot-and-mouth disease was investigated in sub-Saharan Africa by phylogenetic analysis using the 1D gene encoding the major antigenic determinant. Fourteen genotypes were identified of which three are novel and belong to East Africa, bringing the total number of genotypes for that region to eight. The genotypes clustered into three lineages that demonstrated surprising links between East, southern and south-western Africa. One lineage was unique to West Africa. These results established numerous incursions across country borders in East Africa and long term conservation of sequences for periods up to 41 years. Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have all experienced outbreaks from more than one unrelated strain, demonstrating the potential for new introductions. The amount of variation observed within this serotype nearly equalled that which was found between serotypes; this has severe implications for disease control using vaccination.