We examine profiles and scaling properties of the entropy of the intergalactic gas in a sample of 66 virialized systems, ranging in mass from single elliptical galaxies to rich clusters, for which we have resolved X-ray temperature profiles. Some of the properties we derive appear to be inconsistent with any of the models put forward to explain the breaking of self-similarity in the baryon content of clusters. In particular, the entropy profiles, scaled to the virial radius, are broadly similar in form across the sample, apart from a normalization factor that differs from simple self-similar scaling with temperature. Low-mass systems do not show the large isentropic cores predicted by preheating models, and the high entropy excesses reported at large radii in groups by Finoguenov et al. are confirmed, and found to extend even to moderately-rich clusters. We discuss the implications of these results for the evolutionary history of hot gas in clusters, and suggest that preheating may affect the entropy of intracluster gas primarily by reducing the density of material accreting into groups and clusters along cosmic filaments.