Many highly polymorphic minisatellite loci can be detected simultaneously in the human genome by hybridization to probes consisting of tandem repeats of the 'core' sequence. The resulting DNA fingerprints produced by Southern blot hybridization are comprised of multiple hypervariable DNA fragments, show somatic and germline stability and are completely specific to an individual. We now show that this technique can be used for forensic purposes; DNA of high relative molecular mass (Mr) can be isolated from 4-yr-old bloodstains and semen stains made on cotton cloth and digested to produce DNA fingerprints suitable for individual identification. Further, sperm nuclei can be separated from vaginal cellular debris, obtained from semen-contaminated vaginal swabs, enabling positive identification of the male donor/suspect. It is envisaged that DNA fingerprinting will revolutionize forensic biology particularly with regard to the identification of rape suspects.