Fifty-one strains representing Xanthomonas campestris pv. manihotis and cassavae and different pathovars occurring on plants of the family Euphorbiaceae were characterized by ribotyping with a 16S+23S rRNA probe of Escherichia coli and by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis with a plasmid probe from X. campestris pv. manihotis. Pathogenicity tests were performed on cassava (Manihot esculenta). Histological comparative studies were conducted on strains of two pathovars of X. campestris (vascular and mesophyllic) that attack cassava. Our results indicated that X. campestris pv. manihotis and cassavae have different modes of action in the host and supplemented the taxonomic data on restriction fragment length polymorphism that clearly separate the two pathovars. The plasmid probe could detect multiple restriction fragment length polymorphisms among strains of the pathovar studied. Ribotyping provides a useful tool for rapid identification of X. campestris pathovars on cassava.