Interspecific genetic variation was examined in the genus Capsicum based on shared restriction fragments in Southern analyses. Four distinct clusters were delineated among 21 accessions of cultivated and wild pepper (C. annuum, C. baccatum, C. chacoense, C. chinense, and C. frutescens). Three tight clusters comprised of accessions belonging to C. annuum, C. frutescens, and C. baccatum, respectively, were formed, along with a fourth cluster comprised of one accession each of C. chinense and C. chacoense. All accessions were differentiated by this technique, and the clusters corresponded closely to previous morphology-based classification. Sufficient DNA polymorphism exists among these accessions that segregating populations useful for restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) mapping could be constructed using any two pepper accessions as parents. Regression analysis indicates that genetic distance is a good predictor (R2 = 0.872) of the level of mappable DNA polymorphism in Capsicum. Intraspecific variability was examined among four C. annuum cultivars (NuMex R Naky, Jupiter, Perennial, and Criollo de Morelos 334) using both RFLPs and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPDs), allowing a comparative evaluation of the two techniques. Seventeen percent of the clones used singly in RFLP analyses were sufficient for the differentiation of these varieties, as were 12.5% of the RAPD PCR amplifications. Dendrograms constructed from RFLP and RAPD analyses of the intraspecific data are similar but not identical. Southern analysis and RAPD PCR should be useful for DNA fingerprinting and the discrimination of closely related C. annuum genotypes.