Forensic entomology requires the fast and accurate identification of insects collected from a corpse for estimation of the postmortem interval (PMI). Identification of specimens is traditionally performed using morphological features of the insect. Morphological identification may be complicated however by the numerical diversity of species and physical similarity between different species, particularly in immature stages. In this study, sequencing was performed to study the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as the prospective basis of a diagnostic technique. The sequencing focused on a section of the cytochrome oxidase I encoding region of mtDNA. Three species of calliphorid (blow flies) commonly associated with corpses in western Australia, Calliphora dubia, Chrysomya rufifacies and Lucilia sericata, in addition to specimens of Calliphora augur and Chrysomya megacephala were studied. Phylogenetic analysis of data revealed grouping of species according to genus. The DNA region sequenced allowed identification of all species, providing high support for separation on congeneric species. Low levels of variation between some species of the same genus however indicate that further sequencing is required to locate a region for development of a molecular-based technique for identification. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.