Pectic zymogram, RFLP and PCR analyses were used to characterize Rhizoctonia solani AG 3 isolates collected from diseased potatoes in South Australia. The pectic zymogram data were compared with those obtained for isolates collected from central Iran. Analyses of bands corresponding to pectin esterase and polygalacturonase revealed three zymogram subgroups (ZG) in AG 3. In addition to the previously reported ZG7 (here renamed ZG7-1), two new zymogram subgroups, ZG7-2 and ZG7-3, were identified. Of the 446 isolates tested, 50% of the South Australian and 46% of the Iranian isolates were ZG7-1. The majority of the isolates originating from stem and root cankers were ZG7-1, whereas most of the isolates designated ZG7-2 and ZG7-3 originated from tuber-borne sclerotia. Pathogenicity tests revealed that ZG7-1 generally produced fewer sclerotia and more severe cankers of underground parts of the potato plants than the other two ZGs. Two random DNA clones, one originating from an AG 3 isolate and the other from an AG 4 isolate, were used as probes for RFLP analyses of Australian isolates. The AG 3 probe, previously identified to be specific to this group, detected a high level of genetic diversity, with 11 genotypes identified amongst 50 isolates analysed. The low-copy AG 4 probe resolved three genotypes amongst 24 isolates. For 23 isolates analysed with both markers, the combined data distinguished a total of six genotypes and similarity analysis resolved the isolates into two main groups with 50% homology. PCR, using primers for the plant intron splice junction region (R1), also revealed variation. No obvious relationship among pectic zymogram groups, RFLP and PCR genotypes was observed.