Human mitochondrial DNA from 50 trios consisting of mother (M), child (C) and father (F) was PCR amplified with primers flanking the hyper-variable regions, HVR1 and HVR2. The amplified products were then fractionated under non-denaturing conditions, silver-stained and compared by single-stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP). In all but one case, mother and child displayed identical patterns, which could be promptly distinguished from that of the father. For the remaining cases, either set of primers was sufficient to resolve the familial ties. In no instance, M displayed alleles different from those of C within each trio, demonstrating that no false exclusions occurred. The SSCP approach proved to be a robust technique suitable as a preliminary screening in cases requiring identification of multiple samples.