This paper describes the molecular characterization of foot-and-mouth disease viruses (FMDV) recovered from outbreaks in Tanzania that occurred between 1967 and 2009. A total of 44 FMDV isolates, containing representatives of serotypes O, A, SAT 1 and SAT 2 from 13 regions of Tanzania, were selected from the FAO World Reference Laboratory for FMD (WRLFMD) virus collection. VP1 nucleotide sequences were determined for RT-PCR amplicons, and phylogenetic reconstructions were determined by maximum likelihood and neighbour-joining methods. These analyses showed that Tanzanian type O viruses fell into the EAST AFRICA 2 (EA-2) topotype, type A viruses fell into the AFRICA topotype (genotype I), type SAT 1 viruses into topotype I and type SAT 2 viruses into topotype IV. Taken together, these findings reveal that serotypes O, A, SAT 1 and SAT 2 that caused FMD outbreaks in Tanzania were genetically related to lineages and topotypes occurring in the East African region. The close genetic relationship of viruses in Tanzania to those from other countries suggests that animal movements can contribute to virus dispersal in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the first molecular description of viruses circulating in Tanzania and highlights the need for further sampling of representative viruses from the region so as to elucidate the complex epidemiology of FMD in Tanzania and sub-Saharan Africa.