Ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences were investigated in the genera Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium and Penicillium, to identify regions suitable for the design of genus- and species-specific oligonucleotide probes. The ITS regions of all four genera were quite distinct. However, we discovered that the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium displayed high similarity in most of the ITS2 region. Whilst interspecies similarity within Alternaria and Cladosporium was high in both ITS regions 1 and 2, ITS1 similarity within Aspergillus and Penicillium was lower by comparison. We conclude that: (1) the ITS2 region is highly conserved between Aspergillus and Penicillium, and (2) the ITS1 region will allow for the development of specific probes to distinguish between Aspergillus and Penicillium.