Gonorrheal urethritis was induced in three males by intraurethral instillation of predominantly pilus+ protein II- gonococci. Virtually all gonococci reisolated from the infected men exhibited protein II+ phenotype. The reisolated gonococci expressed five distinct outer membrane protein II species. Protein IIc+ organisms predominated in urines of all three subjects, but variants expressing this particular protein II were rarely spawned in vitro by input organisms. Protein IIc+ gonococci appeared early in one man's infection; they were joined later by variants that displayed eight other protein II phenotypes, including protein II-. These results show that input protein II- gonococci are supplanted by protein IIc+ variants during incipient gonorrheal urethritis. As infection progresses, a broader variety of protein II+ variants appears.