The recent discovery of a geographically dispersed clonal group of Escherichia coli O4:H5 that includes prototypic uropathogenic strain J96 prompted us to determine the prevalence of J96-like strains within serogroup O4 and to further assess the characteristics of such strains. We used O:K:H;F serotyping, PCR-based genomic fingerprinting, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE), and PCR detection of the three papG alleles and of the cytotoxic necrotizing factor 1 (cnf1) and aerobactin (aer) gene sequences to characterize the 15 O4 strains among 336 E. coli isolates from three clinical collections (187 from mixed- source bacteremia, 75 from urosepsis, and 74 from acute cystitis). J96-like strains constituted approximately half of the O4 strains, or 2% of the total population. In contrast to other O4 strains, the J96-like strains characteristically exhibited specific group III capsular antigens, the H5 flagellar and F13 fimbrial antigens, a distinctive PCR genomic fingerprint, the class III papG allele (plus, in 50% of strains, the enigmatic class I papG allele), and cnf1 but lacked aer. A subset of these strains was remarkably homogeneous with respect to all these characteristics and exhibited a distinctive PFGE fingerprint and MLEE pattern. These findings clarify the epidemiological relevance of J96 as a model extraintestinal pathogen, provide further evidence of the class I papG allele outside of strain J96, and offer insights into the evolution of E. coli serogroup 04.