Previous studies on restriction fragment length polymorphism of bovine major histocompatibility complex class II genes have primarily been based on the use of human probes. In the present study bovine probes for DQA, DQB, DRB and DYA were used for RFLP analysis of cattle genomic DNA digested with PvuII and TaqI. There was an excellent agreement between the RFLP results obtained with homologous and heterologous probes. Although a few 'new' restriction fragments were revealed with the bovine probes there was no discrepancy with regard to the classification of allelic types with the two types of probes. The major advantages of using bovine probes were a better hybridization signal and reduced cross-hybridization between loci. Hybridization experiments with DQA probes for the first domain exon from two different genomic clones revealed the presence of two distinct types of bovine DQA genes. Surprisingly, these probes did not cross-hybridize at high stringency, indicating that the two genes are quite divergent. Hybridization with a recently described genomic clone for a novel bovine alpha-chain gene confirmed that it corresponds to the DYA gene which had previously been identified by cross-hybridization to a human DQA probe.