Amotile Burkholderia mallei and motile Burkholderia pseudomallei display a high similarity with regard to phenotype and clinical syndromes, glanders and melioidosis. The aim of this study was to establish a fast and reliable molecular method for identification and differentiation. Despite amotility, the gene of the filament forming flagellin (fliC) could be completely sequenced in two B. mallei strains. Only one mutation was identified discriminating between B. mallei and B. pseudomallei. A polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism assay was designed making use of the absence of an AvaII recognition site in B. mallei. All seven B. mallei, 12 out of 15 B. pseudomallei and 36 closely related apathogenic Burkholderia thailandensis strains were identified correctly. However, in three B. pseudomallei strains a point mutation at gene position 798 (G to C) disrupted the AvaII site. Therefore, molecular systems based on the fliC sequence can be used for a reliable proof of strains of the three species but not for the differentiation of B. mallei and B. pseudomallei isolates.