Summary Amplified Ribosomal-DNA Restriction Analysis (ARDRA) was used to differentiate among 12 species and 4 subspecies of the genus Staphylococcus. With a universal primer pair a 2.4 kbp PCR-product was amplified, including the 16S rDNA, the 16S-23S rDNA interspacer region, and about 500 bp of the 23S rDNA. Species-specific restriction patterns were found using the restriction enzymes Hin dIII and Xmn I separately. Cheese related staphylococci were clearly differentiated. ARDRA results were in good agreement with results of partial sequencing of the 16S rDNA. ARDRA could fully replace the biochemical identification with ID32 Staph (BioMerieux) which was less reliable when staphylococci of cheese origin were analysed. Genomic restriction digests of cheese-related S. equorum strains by Sma I and Sac I gave unique strain-specific restriction patterns which can be used to identify starter staphylococci in a complex microbial environment such as the surface of Red-Smear cheeses.