Helicobacter pylori cagA-positive strains exert population-specific risks for gastric cancer. We determined whether variations in CagA phosphorylation motifs were associated with carcinogenic or proinflammatory epithelial phenotypes induced by strains from regions with divergent cancer risks (Colombia and Nashville, TN). Motif number was significantly related to levels of CagA phosphorylation and cytoskeletal abnormalities. Precancerous isolates possessed a higher number of motifs, and precancerous strains from Nashville induced higher levels of IL-8 than Colombian strains. These results indicate that CagA variants are linked with premalignant lesions in distinct populations and that epithelial responses to these strains are selective based upon locale.