The molecular characterisation of species and genotypes of Cryptosporidium and Giardia is essential for accurately identifying organisms and assessing zoonotic transmission. Results of recent molecular epidemiological studies strongly suggest that zoonotic transmission plays an important role in cryptosporidiosis epidemiology. In such cases the most prevalent zoonotic species is Cryptosporidium parvum. Genotyping and subtyping data suggest that zoonotic transmission is not as prevalent in the epidemiology of giardiasis. Molecular characterisation of Cryptosporidium and Giardia is a relatively recent application that is evolving as new genes are found that increase the accuracy of identification while discovering a greater diversity of species and yet unnamed taxa within these two important genera. As molecular data accumulate, our understanding of the role of zoonotic transmission in epidemiology and clinical manifestations is becoming clearer.