Listeria monocytogenes is an opportunistic intracellular pathogen that has become an important cause of human foodborne infections worldwide. Given its close relationship to other Listeria species and its tendency to produce non-specific clinical symptoms, the availability of rapid, sensitive and specific diagnostic tests for the differentiation of L. monocytogenes from other Listeria species is helpful for selecting appropriate treatment regimens. In addition, with L. monocytogenes comprising a diversity of strains of varying pathogenicity, the ability to precisely track the strains involved in listeriosis outbreaks and speedily determine their pathogenic potential is critical for the control and prevention of further occurrences of this deadly disease. Extensive research in recent decades has revealed significant insights regarding the molecular mechanisms of L. monocytogenes infection. This in turn has facilitated the development of laboratory procedures for enhanced detection and identification of L. monocytogenes, and has also contributed to the implementation of improved control and prevention strategies against listeriosis. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent progress in the species-specific identification, subtyping and virulence determination of L. monocytogenes strains, and to discuss future research needs pertaining to these important areas of listeriosis.