PCR assays have been developed mainly to assist investigations into the epidemiology of Giardia duodenalis, the only species in the Giardia genus having zoonotic potential. However, a reliable identification of all species is of practical importance, particularly when water samples and samples from wild animals are investigated. The aim of the present work was to genotype Giardia species and G. duodenalis assemblages using as a target the region spanning the 5.8S gene and the 2 flanking internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and ITS2) of the ribosomal gene. Primers were designed to match strongly conserved regions in the 3' end of the small subunit and in the 5' end of the large subunit ribosomal genes. The corresponding region (about 310 bp) was amplified from 49 isolates of both human and animal origin, representing all G. duodenalis assemblages as well as G. muris and G. microti. Sequence comparison and phylogenetic analysis showed that G. ardeae, G. muris, G. microti as well as the 7 G. duodenalis assemblages can be easily distinguished. Since the major subgroups within the zoonotic assemblages A and B can be identified by sequence analysis, this assay is also informative for molecular epidemiological studies.