Leishmania are usually identified by iso-enzyme analysis. This method works well, but there is a need for an additional, more simple, method of identification. Here we present data that show that in a Southern blot analysis, recombinant DNA probes in combination with certain restriction enzymes can differentiate between taxa of Leishmania. Probes based on clones selected from a L. infantum cDNA library gave characteristic patterns on Southern blots for reference strains of the different types of Leishmania found in Europe, Africa and Asia. Within the different taxa little or no variation was observed. Although the L. infantum derived probes showed a somewhat stronger hybridization for strains of the L. donovani complex, the signal obtained with most probes was satisfactory for L. major, L. aethiopica and L. tropica. Within the L. donovani complex none of the selected probes differentiated between isolates belonging to L. infantum, L. chagasi or L. donovani. Probes containing kinetoplast DNA showed considerable variation in hybridization within a taxon.