The applicability of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-mediated DNA typing, with primers complementary to dispersed repetitive DNA sequences and arbitrarily chosen DNA motifs, to study the epidemiology of campylobacter infection was evaluated. With a single PCR reaction and simple gel electrophoresis, strain-specific DNA banding patterns were observed for Campylobacter jejuni and C. upsaliensis. DNA from multiple strains isolated during an outbreak of C. jejuni meningitis generated identical banding patterns and could be distinguished from randomly isolated strains. Strains from a community outbreak of C. upsaliensis, that were all identical by conventional typing methods, could be divided into two genetically different groups. This report illustrates that PCR fingerprinting can be successfully applied in epidemiological investigations of campylobacter infections.