We estimated the genetic relationships between the endangered German Pustertaler-Sprinzen cattle breed and the Pinzgauer, Vosges and Simmental breeds--decided upon after consultation of the available historical literature. Within-breed diversity of the four breeds was also assessed. Twenty microsatellite markers were amplified in 27-50 unrelated individuals from populations of each breed. Within-breed variation was estimated from average heterozygosity values and mean number of alleles. Breed relationships were evaluated by genetic distance and a neighbour-joining tree was calculated from these estimates. Bootstrap resampling of loci tested the robustness of the tree topology obtained. A tree was also constructed from distance matrices using individual animals as operational taxonomic units. From both the average heterozygosity values and mean number of alleles calculated, the Pustertaler breed appears to be no more genetically impoverished than the other breeds analysed. The breed tree showed an 85% support for the Pustertaler-Pinzgauer grouping, and this result is echoed in the genetic distance values and allele-sharing individual tree.