The 16S rRNA genes (rDNA) of 50 strains belonging to 26 different coryneform bacterial species and genomospecies and of the type strain of Rhodococcus equi were enzymatically amplified. Amplified rDNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) with the enzymes AluI, CfoI and RsaI was carried out. The combination of the ARDRA patterns obtained after restriction with these three different enzymes enabled the differentiation between the following species: Corynebacterium accolens (number of strains = 2), C. afermentans subsp. afermentans (2), C. afermentans subsp. lipophilum (2), C. amycolatum (3), CDC coryneform group ANF-1-like (1), CDC coryneform group ANF-3-like (1), C. cystitidis (1), C. diphtheriae (4), C. jeikeium (3), C. macginleyi (2), C. minutissimum (1), C. pilosum (1), C. pseudotuberculosis (2), C. renale (2), C. striatum (2), C. urealyticum (3), C. xerosis (1), CDC coryneform groups B-1 (2), B-3 (2), F-1, genomospecies 1 and 2 (6), G, genomospecies 1 (1) and G, genomospecies 2 (2). The following strains or species could not be differentiated from each other: C. pseudodiphtheriticum (2) from C. propinquum (former CDC coryneform group ANF-3) (2), CDC coryneform group F-1, genomospecies 1 (4) from genomospecies 2 (2) and C. jeikeium genomospecies A (1) from genomospecies C (2). ARDRA may represent a possible alternative for identification of coryneforms, since this technique enabled the identification of most coryneforms tested and since DNA extraction (i.e. cell lysis by boiling), amplification, restriction and electrophoresis can be carried out within 8 hours. This might allow quick identification of C. diphtheriae and other possible pathogens of the genus Corynebacterium.