A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method is described for typing of alleles of the bovine lymphocyte antigen (BoLA)-DRB3 gene. A total of 30 DRB3 alleles were distinguished by digestion of PCR amplification products of BoLA-DRB3 exon 2 with RsaI, BstYI and HaeIII (PCR-RFLP). All restriction fragment patterns, with the exception of one HaeIII pattern, were consistent with restriction sites that were found among 14 previously sequenced DRB3 alleles. The PCR-RFLP typing method was evaluated on 168 genomic DNA samples collected from animals of 10 cattle breeds, 48 of which were typed in the Fourth International BoLA Workshop for BoLA-DRB and -DQ by conventional restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis using heterologous and homologous DNA probes. Thirty-one DRB/DQ haplotypes containing 23 DRB3 alleles were identified among the 48 workshop animals analysed. Using PCR-RFLP, 11 DRB3 alleles were identified in 18 workshop animals for which DRB RFLPs were not informative. PCR-RFLP typing of additional animals revealed five new DRB3 alleles, of which three contained a putatively located three basepair deletion in the identical position as found for the sequenced allele DRB*2A. PCR-RFLP was shown to be a rapid and sensitive method for the detection of polymorphism in a functionally relevant domain of the BoLA-DRB3 gene and should be useful for studying the evolution of DRB polymorphism in cattle and other Bovidae.