A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of a 587-bp region of the Cryptosporidium parvum 70-kDa heat shock protein (HSP70) gene was developed for the detection and discrimination of the two major genotypes of C. parvum, genotype 1 and genotype 2. Ten Cryptosporidium isolates from non-immunocompromised people were identified as genotypes 1 and 2 (five each) by DNA sequencing of the 587-bp PCR product. This distinction was also achieved with the combination of two endonucleases, HinfI and ScaI, which generated a specific pattern for each genotype. A thorough screening of published sequences showed that this combination of enzymes could also be used for the discrimination of other species/genotypes of of Cryptosporidium, especially Cryptosporidium meleagridis and the 'dog' genotype of C. parvum both of which are infectious in humans. The PCR, conducted on genotypes 1 and 2 of C. parvum, could detect one oocyst per reaction. This new and sensitive genotyping procedure should be of particular interest when applied to the monitoring of water resources in which low concentrations of parasites usually occur. (C) 2001 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.