Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of SmaI, MluI and SalI digested DNA was used to estimate genome size and perform restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis for Rickettsia prowazekii and Rickettsia typhi. We concluded that the genome of R. prowazekii and R. typhi consisted of a single chromosomal DNA. The total length of DNA of R. prowazekii was 1,106 +/- 54 kb and of R. typhi was 1,133 +/- 44 kb. It was possible to differentiate two strains of R. prowazekii, Breinl and EVir, by PFGE analysis after SalI digestion. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis did not reveal intraspecies differences between three human isolates and one Xenopsilla cheopis isolate of R. typhi.