Rotaviruses are the major etiological agents of diarrhea in children less than 5 years of age. The commonest G types in humans are G1-4 and G9. G12 is a rare human rotavirus (HRV) strain first reported in the Philippines. In this study, 13 G12 strains obtained from a community-based cohort and a hospital-based surveillance system in 2005 were characterized by phylogenetic analysis of partial nucleotide sequences of VP7, VP6, and NSP4 genes. Sequence and phylogenetic analysis of VP7 gene sequences showed that these southern Indian strains had the greatest homology with G12 strains recently reported from eastern India (97-99% identity both at the nucleotide level and deduced amino acid level) and less homology with the prototype G12 strain, L26 (89-90% identity at the nucleotide level and 90-94% at the deduced amino acid level). Phylogenetic analysis of the VP6 and the NSP4 genes revealed that the Vellore G12 strains belonged to VP6 subgroup II and NSP4 genotype B. The P types associated with these strains were P and P. A G12 type-specific primer was designed for inclusion in an established VP7 G-typing multiplex RT PCR, and tested against a panel of known G types and untyped samples and was found to detect G12 strains in the multiplex-PCR. Close homology of the South Indian G12 strains to those from Kolkata suggests that G12 HRV strains are emerging in India. Methods for characterization of rotaviruses in epidemiological studies need to be updated frequently, particularly in developing countries.