Hospital-acquired infections in the United States contribute to approximately 80,000 deaths per year, with an associated cost of > $4 billion. Some of these infections are associated with outbreaks and clusters occurring within the hospital. The hospital infection control team must respond quickly and decisively to recognize and curtail these outbreaks, but their response often depends on critical laboratory data that characterize or "fingerprint" suspected microbial isolates. This presentation summarizes the simple, easily performed tests and the more molecular approaches that a hospital laboratory may take in support of infection control efforts. In addition to phenotypic data, such as biotype and antibiograms, hospitals that elect to incorporate molecular protocols should limit their first experiences to plasmid analysis and plasmid restriction endonuclease profiles.