There is a high burden of disease due to group A streptococcus (GAS) in remote Northern Territory (NT) Indigenous communities. A proposed 26-valent GAS M-type vaccine covers 80-90% of pharyngeal and invasive isolates in the US. We examined the diversity and distribution of emm types in two remote Indigenous communities in the NT Top End over a 17-year period and compared them to the proposed vaccine types. Eighty emm types were identified between 1991 and 2007. Diversity in both communities was high (overall Simpson's index 0.976), but varied between communities. Prior to 2004, 71 emm types were identified and an additional 9 emm types were identified during a period of active surveillance in 2004-2005. The proposed 26-valent vaccine would be expected to cover only 20% of emm types recovered in this study. Of the 80 emm types, 16 (20%) were new sequence types identified since the last assignment of M types in 2002. The diversity of streptococcal isolates was higher than that reported from most industrialized countries, and similar to that described in several developing countries. A vaccine based on such a variable antigen is unlikely to provide effective protection in the highest risk populations.