Four PCR-based DNA fingerprinting techniques were compared for their ability to identify at the species level a heterogeneous collection of isolates belonging to the six valid Listeria species. 16S rDNA-RFLP analysis identified all species and 16S rDNA-SSCP analysis identified almost all species. Also, isolates with unusual biochemical characteristics and/or unusual antigenic composition could be identified correctly. rRNA-intracistronic length polymorphism analysis suffered from high intraspecific variability, a limited number of fragments per profile, and small length differences between the spacers of different species. tRNA-intergenic length polymorphism analysis resulted in identification of all isolates but one, when fluorescent DNA capillary electrophoresis was used such that fragment length differences of 1 bp could be resolved. The four techniques yielded comparable results relevant to the taxonomy of Listeria. They all indicate a high degree of genetic relatedness between L. innocua and L. welshimeri, homogeneity of L. grayi, distinct but clear relatedness of L. grayi to the other Listeria species, a clear distinction between the two subspecies of L. ivanovii, and a clear distinction between Listeria isolates and isolates from closely related taxa or from species which are phenotypically difficult to distinguish from Listeria. New sequence determination of the 16S rRNA gene was necessary to obtain sequences in accordance with the findings of 16S rDNA-RFLP analysis.