Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is a frequent cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) epidemics associated with severe neurological sequelae in a small proportion of cases. There has been a significant increase in EV71 epidemic activity throughout the Asia-Pacific region since 1997. Recent HFMD epidemics in this region have been associated with a severe form of brainstem encephalitis associated with pulmonary edema and high case fatality rates. In this study, we show that four genetic lineages of EV71 have been prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region since 1997, including two previously undescribed genogroups (B3 and B4). Furthermore, we show that viruses belonging to genogroups B3 and B4 have circulated endemically in Southeast Asia during this period and have been the primary cause of several large HFMD or encephalitis epidemics in Malaysia, Singapore, and Western Australia.