Intragenic DNA probes were synthesized by polymerase chain reaction using fragments of the genes of three major types of beta-lactamases (TEM, SHV, CARB) as templates. The TEM probe hybridized with the genes encoding TEM-1, TEM-2 and six extended-spectrum related enzymes (TEM-3 to TEM-7, TEM-2O) in colony hybridizations and Southern-blot analysis. The SHV probe hybridized with the genes for SHV-1, OHIO-1 and four derived extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (SHV-2, SHV-3, SHV-4 and SHV-5). The CARB probe hybridized with the genes for PSE-1 (CARB-2), PSE-4 (CARB-1), CARB-3 and CARB-4. None of the probes hybridized with genes for any of eight oxacillin-hydrolysing enzymes, PSE-2, OXA-1 to OXA-7, ROB-1 and chromosomal beta-lactamases of various Enterobacteriaceae (except Klebsiella pneumoniae) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Investigations of Escherichia coli clinical isolates using these probes indicate the presence of a novel type of extended-spectrum, transferable beta-lactamase.