The use of probes derived from rRNA sequences to detect restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) associated with the ribosomal RNA genes for epidemiological typing (ribotyping) is a powerful and readily applicable tool. Different probes and enzymes for ribotyping were compared for a series of 73 unrelated Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 strains. The probes compared were cDNAs, transcribed from L. pneumophila or Escherichia coli rRNA subunits, and a cloned L. pneumophila rRNA gene. The cloned rRNA gene probe gave the best discrimination and this probe was further compared with cloned probes comprised of randomly selected (non-rRNA) parts of the L. pneumophila chromosome. In this instance the greatest discrimination was achieved when one of the non-ribosomal RNA gene probes was employed. The overall discrimination of RFLP typing was enhanced by combining the data obtained with both rRNA and non-rRNA probes.