In this study classical ribotyping based on hybridization of an enteroccocal ribosomal operon previously cloned from Enterococcus hirae (Sechi and Daneo-Moore, 1993) with XbaI cut chromosomal DNA and PCR-ribotyping were used to characterize the molecular epidemiology of 131 Enterococcus faecium, with high-level resistance to gentamicin, isolated from different hospitals in Italy and the United States. The ribotyping was able to differentiate all 131 clinical isolates into 96 family patterns. These family patterns appeared to be useful in establishing epidemiological spread. The results obtained were in agreement with those previously published, suggesting the presence of five to six operons in the Enterococcus genus (Sechi et al., 1994). We performed PCR-ribotyping, based on conserved sequences at the 3' end of the enterococcal 16S rrn and the 5' end of the 23S rrn, on 131 clinical isolates as well as on several enterococcal ATCC strains tested. The results were then compared with those obtained with the classical ribotyping method. The results suggest the presence of at least four classes of intergenic spacers among enterococci, but these classes are not helpful in differentiating between Enterococci or among Enterococcal isolates.