Recent studies portend a rising global spread and adaptation of human- or healthcare-associated pathogens. Here, we analyse an international collection of the emerging, multidrug-resistant, opportunistic pathogen Stenotrophomonas maltophilia from 22 countries to infer population structure and clonality at a global level. We show that the S. maltophilia complex is divided into 23 monophyletic lineages, most of which harbour strains of all degrees of human virulence. Lineage Sm6 comprises the highest rate of human-associated strains, linked to key virulence and resistance genes. Transmission analysis identifies potential outbreak events of genetically closely related strains isolated within days or weeks in the same hospitals.