A polymerase chain reaction-based method for genotyping Giardia duodenalis isolates using a polymorphic region near the 5' end of the small subunit ribosomal (SSU) RNA gene is described. Analysis was performed using Giardia cysts purified directly from feces. Isolates were collected from humans and dogs living in isolated Aboriginal communities where Giardia infections are highly endemic. This is the first report of the genetic characterization of Giardia from dogs and humans living in the same locality. Comparison of the SSU-rRNA sequences from 13 human and 9 dog isolates revealed 4 different genetic groups. Groups 1 and 2 contained all of the human isolates, whereas groups 3 and 4 consisted entirely of Giardia samples recovered from dogs. One dog sample contained templates from both groups 2 and 3. These results suggest that zoonotic transmission of Giardia infections between humans and dogs does not occur frequently in these communities. The dog-associated SSU-rRNA sequences have not been reported before, suggesting a new G. duodenalis subgroup. A genetic basis for the differences observed between the groups was supported by sequence analysis of 9 in vitro cultured isolates that were placed into the same genetic groups established by enzyme electrophoresis.