The genomic DNA of Helicobacter pylori was studied by electrophoretic analysis of restriction endonuclease fragments. Twenty seven isolates from eight patients in the United Kingdom, obtained before and after treatment with nitrofurantoin, and two reference strains from Australia and Peru were investigated. Digestion of DNA with HaeIII, which gave the clearest band pattern of the 20 enzymes tested, showed that each set of isolates from a single patient had a unique band pattern. The DNA signature band patterns of strains from different patients were less than or equal to 62% similar (average 43%); similarities of patterns from the same patient were generally greater than or equal to 86%. Some minor but reproducible polymorphisms (less than or equal to five bands) in the signature region were detected in most consecutive isolates. Plasmid DNA was detected in isolates from five patients, but major pattern differences were attributed to genomic variation. It is concluded that the HaeIII DNA digest signature fingerprints provide a reproducible and sensitive method of discriminating between isolates of H pylori.