In the genus Aeromonas there are at least 13 DNA hybridization groups, which are difficult to differentiate biochemically. We investigated the usefulness of rRNA gene restriction patterns for characterization and identification of the various groups. Genomic DNA was digested with restriction endonuclease SmaI, transferred to a nylon membrane, and hybridized with biotinylated plasmid pKK3535 containing the rrnB operon of Escherichia coli. The SmaI bands at 0.8 to 4 kb but not those at positions corresponding to sizes larger than 4 kb showed a good correlation with hybridization groups, allowing identification of strains to the level of genetic species. We demonstrated that the 567-bp fragment localized between positions 80 and 647 of the 16S ribosomal gene of E. coli was essential for hybridization to the low-molecular-weight fragments, whereas the remainder of the operon did not hybridize to these fragments. On the basis of these results, we concluded that the Aeromonas chromosome contains multiple rRNA operons which may be used for species identification.