Yersinia enterocolitica gastroenteritis was first recognized in the early 1960s and has since been reported with increasing frequency. To determine if strains of Y. enterocolitica, within a restricted region isolated over 8 years (1985-1993), originated from a single or multiple clones, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of large chromosomal DNA restriction fragments generated by XbaI or NotI was used. A total of 27 isolates of Y. enterocolitica were analyzed, 24 from Austria (Vienna and Graz) consisting of serogroups 0:3 (17 isolates), 0:9 (6 isolates), 0:5 (1 isolate); 2 from Germany of serogroups 0:3 and 0:9 (1 isolate each); 1 from the U.S.A. of serogroup 0:8. Genomic fingerprints of these strains were compared to those of 8 other Yersinia species to ascertain if their restriction endonuclease digestion profiles (REDP) were serogroup and/or species specific. The 27 Y. enterocolitica strains could be divided into 16 genomic varieties according to their restriction patterns with NotI and XbaI. PFGE was highly discriminatory as strains belonging to the same serogroup could be subdivided into different genomic groups. Furthermore, Y. enterocolitica strains isolated from the same region, over an 8 year period, belonged to a few closely related clones. The genomic fingerprints of Yersinia were found to be species and serogroup specific.