The genomes of the five Bifidobacterium breve strains available from culture collections were compared by restriction endonuclease analysis. Electrophoretic migration of undigested DNA allowed us to detect a 5.6-kb circular plasmid in two of these strains. A restriction map of this plasmid was constructed using 10 enzymes. With DraI endonuclease, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis has allowed the determination of the five B. breve genome sizes to 2.1 Mb. This estimation was further confirmed for CIP 6469 (type strain) and ATCC 15698 using XbaI and SpeI enzymes. In addition, rRNA gene regions were used as probes for strain characterization and suggest that there are at least three rrn loci in B. breve.