Mycobacterium kansasii consists of 5 genetically distinct groups, of which 2 are associated with human disease. Determinants of the differences in virulence are unknown. Potential genes of interest are esat-6 and cfp-10, which are associated with virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis but are lacking in bacille Calmette-Guérin and in most environmental mycobacteria (M. kansasii is an exception). We investigated esat-6 and cfp-10 genes in 22 clinical and 14 environmental isolates of M. kansasii. Both were present in all isolates; each genetic group had its own characteristic Southern-blot pattern corresponding to a highly conserved fingerprint pattern. Nucleotide sequences of the genes differed 12.6% and 10.1%, respectively, from the M. tuberculosis homologues, but the deduced amino acid sequences were <5% different. In vitro, clinical and environmental genotypes of M. kansasii expressed CFP-10 and ESAT-6. Thus, virulence of M. kansasii is not directly related to esat-6 and cfp-10 genes or gene expression.