Forty-seven ampicillin-resistant R plasmids derived from 218 Shigella sonnei isolates from Daegu and Gwangju areas from 1980 to 2000 were epidemiologically compared by fragments of restriction endonuclease patterns by EcoRI and SmaI, and by Southern hybridization with a blaTEM-1 probe. All the ampicillin-resistant strains isolated in the 1980S carried a conjugative R plasmid responsible for multiple resistance other than ampicillin, and an ampicillin-resistance plasmid. Ampicillin-resistant strains isolated in the 1990S harbored single conjugative R plasmid encoding ampicillin resistance along with variable antimicrobial resistances. The restriction endonuclease digestion patterns and Southern hybridiztion analysis of conjugative R plasmids showing identical resistance pattern and a same size showed different fragment and Western blotting patterns according to different isolation years and areas, while identical patterns were observed among the plasmids derived from a same isolation year and area. These findings suggest that ampicillin resistance among S. sonnei isolates was due to introduction of ampicillin-resistant R plasmids originated from different sources.