Two insertion sequences, IS6110 and IS1081, specific to the tuberculosis complex mycobacteria and a highly reiterated DNA element (pTBN12) cloned from Mycobacterium tuberculosis were systematically used to identify restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) types among bovine isolates of Mycobacterium bovis in Northern Ireland. In a sample of 109 isolates, probes IS6110, IS1081, and pTBN12 identified 10, 2, and 12 distinct patterns, respectively. By combining the patterns generated by the three probes it was possible to identify 28 distinct RFLP types. The standard protocol advocated for RFLP analysis of M. tuberculosis was used and would facilitate computer-based gel documentation and image analysis to establish a database of M. bovis types for large-scale epidemiological studies. These procedures will facilitate interlaboratory comparisons of M. bovis isolates and will help to elucidate the precise epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis in different countries.