Clostridium perfringens type A food poisoning is caused by C. perfringens isolates carrying a chromosomal enterotoxin gene (cpe), while non-food-borne gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and sporadic diarrhea (SD), are caused by C. perfringens plasmid cpe isolates. A recent study reported the association of beta2 toxin (CPB2) with human GI diseases, and particularly AAD/SD, by demonstrating that a large percentage of AAD/SD isolates, in contrast to a small percentage of food poisoning isolates, carry the beta2-toxin gene (cpb2). This putative relationship was further tested in the current study by characterizing 14 cpe+ C. perfringens fecal isolates associated with recent cases of human SD in England (referred to hereafter as SD isolates). These SD isolates were all classified as cpe+ type A, and 12 of the 14 cpe+ isolates carry their cpe gene on the plasmid and 2 carry it on the chromosome. Interestingly, cpb2 is present in only 12 plasmid cpe isolates; 11 isolates carry cpe and cpb2 on different plasmids, but cpe and cpb2 are located on the same plasmid in one isolate. C. perfringens enterotoxin is produced by all 14 cpe+ SD isolates. However, only 10 of the 12 cpe+/cpb2+ SD isolates produced CPB2, with significant variation in amounts. The levels of cpb2 mRNA in low- to high-CPB2-producing SD isolates differed to such an extent (30-fold) that this difference could be considered a major cause of the differential level of CPB2 production in vitro by SD isolates. Furthermore, no silent or atypical cpb2 was found in a CPB2 Western blot-negative isolate, 5422/94, suggesting that the lack of CPB2 production in 5422/94 was due to low expression of cpb2 mRNA. This received support from our observation that the recombinant plasmid carrying 5422/94 cpb2, which overexpressed cpb2 mRNA, restored CPB2 production in F4969 (a cpb2-negative isolate). Collectively, our present results suggest that CPB2 merits further study as an accessory toxin in C. perfringens-associated SD.